Den druknede bringes i landThe drowned man is brought ashore
Wikimedia Commons; no restriction.
I was lucky enough to be in Skagen this summer at the time of the Tuxen Exhibition at Skagens Museum. This ran from 3rd May to the 14th of September 2014 (its last day is in progress as I write this).
The exhibition is a gathering together of the work of artist Laurits Tuxen. In the picture above, Laurits Tuxen has painted a Skagen scene. In many ways this is typical of the Skagen paintings; its focus on everyday life and death in the isolated community at the time of the artist community in the late 1800s. The focus on fishing, fishermen and drowning was a frequent motif. It resembles paintings by Ancher, Krøyer and others; though it has a more photographic quality to it, to my mind. (Tuxen worked from photographs). I have grown up going to see the paintings and they were important to the writing of my first novel Between Two Seas.
But Copenhagen-born Tuxen was not a typical Skagen artist.
Like many of the Skagen artists, he lived and studied abroad for spells. He married a French wife and they had three children together. But he was commissioned to paint portraits of many of the European royal families. It must have been quite a career. It certainly surprised me to come face to face with paintings of the British Royal family (including Queen Victoria) and of a Buckingham Palace garden party in the exhibition.
What struck me most about his life was the tragedy. He lost his wife and his first three children to tuberculosis and meningitis. It must have been such torture, watching them fade and die one after another, until he was left alone. I felt heartbroken, reading his life story in the museum. It was heartening to see that he remarried and had more children (what courage!) and eventually settled in Skagen with his new family. Tuxen was instrumental in founding the Skagens Museum, where so many of the artists' works are preserved and displayed.