Thorvald Nygaard

The First Six-Day Race

Thorvald Nygaard

The First Six-Day Race

This exhilarating oil painting by Thorvald Nygaard (1892-1973) depicts the first ‘Six-Day Race’ in Denmark, which was held at the Forum København. It’s a spirited work abundant with vibrancy, drama and life.

The Six-Day Race dates back to 1875 with the first being held in Birmingham, England. It began as a running event with individual athletes competing for six days straight. This gruelling test of endurance was then replicated for cyclists in 1878. It seems astonishing that, with only rudimentary equipment, the competitors raced for almost a week. In 1899, perhaps somewhat sensibly, a relay system was introduced whereby one rider could rest while his teammate carried on.

In 1934, the race came to Denmark’s Forum København, where it piqued the interest of Thorvald Nygaard. The arena was packed with an excitable crowd glued to the action and Nygaard was presumably among them. As we see from his work, the velodrome is a feast for the eyes with brightly coloured riders circling tirelessly, mostly in formation. While above them, various flags and signs flutter in the breeze. Can you imagine the atmosphere towards the end?

Nygaard’s interest in this race may stem from his work as an architect as it’s possible that he was involved in the design of the seating. One can imagine that the Forum was particularly full on this occasion so perhaps warranted a new internal configuration. Alternatively, it could simply be a case of sheer wonderment at such a great sporting event.

The race in 1934 was won by the German pair of Willy Funda and Hans Pützfeld. The Forum continued to host the Danish event until 1999.

This interesting and highly decorative painting captures an important milestone in cycling history and it’s an extremely rare find.

Signed/dated in the lower left and housed within a gilt frame.

Learn more about Thorvald Nygaard in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 44½” x 34½” / 113cm x 87cm
Year of creation: 1934
Condition: Artwork presents well. Craquelure but the paint is stable. Stretcher a little warped. Frame with some light wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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