December 01, 2020

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Large donation brings Matisse masterpiece to SMK – National Gallery of Denmark

Henri Matisse Nymph and Faun

With a substantial million-euro donation, the New Carlsberg Foundation and the Augustinus Foundation have made SMK – National Gallery of Denmark the new home of a truly remarkable painting by the French artist Henri Matisse, Nymph and Faun. A painting, that SMK has been trying to locate since the 1990s.

SMK – National Gallery of Denmark owns one of the largest collections of Henri Matisse’s art found anywhere outside of France. Now the museum adds yet another important work by Matisse to its collection, which now numbers 25 paintings and sculptures and a large number of works on paper. Back in 1928, Johannes Rump – an engineer, politician and art collector – gave his collection of modern French art to the museum, and even today his generous gift makes up the majority of the museum’s collection of Matisse’s art.

With Nymph and Faun from c. 1911, the Matisse collection of SMK not only grows by one picture; it also grows more complete: this particular piece has a special connection to Denmark and relates directly to the SMK collection and history in many ways. Nymph and Faun is among the largest single donations made to SMK in recent times.

Nymph and Faun offers an important key to our understanding of Matisse’s art during a period where he experimented with new modes of expression. The subject itself, two bathing figures in a landscape, connects this picture to other figure compositions in the SMK collections. But with its loosely applied, vibrant brushstrokes and sketch-like nature, the picture also exemplifies an important dimension to Matisse’s experiments that has hitherto remained unrepresented at SMK. The work was of key significance to Matisse himself, as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it appears among other key works from the period in the large, revolutionary painting The Red Studio, 1911 (The Museum of Modern Art, New York), which also happens to include other important works from the SMK collection.

Nymph and Faun will be on display at SMK from 27 March 2018.Head of Press, SMK

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