On 20 November 2012 Sothebys
London will offer the recently re-discovered oil study Marie Kr°yer and Anna Ancher on the Beach at Skagen by Danish artist Peder Severin Kr°yer (1851 1909) in a sale of 19th Century European Paintings, together with a group of important works by Scandinavian artists. The study, estimated at ú150,000-250,000, is one of four recorded preparatory oil paintings that relate to Kr°yers large-scale blue period masterpiece Summer Evening on Skagens South Beach in the Skagen Museum, Denmark. Painted in 1893, the motif is arguably the high point of the artists exploration of mood painting. The finished work in the Skagen Museum and the related four oils capture the carefree existence and cosmopolitan elegance that defined the isolated painting community that flourished in Skagen at the tip of Jutland at the end of the nineteenth century. Compellingly evocative, the image has proved enduringly popular; its lyricism continues to resonate in the popular imagination to this day, not only across Denmark but the world-over.
Commenting on the picture, Claude Piening, Senior Director, Sothebys 19th Century European Paintings Department, said: Kr°yer achieved a level of consummate perfection with Summer Evening on Skagens South Beach. The oil study of Marie Kr°yer and Anna Ancher on the Beach at Skagen is the genesis of an image which captured the essence of an epoch. Its rediscovery is the missing piece of the puzzle and has allowed us to understand more fully the process by which Kr°yer sought to capture a scene that was for him and still is for us so utterly beguiling in its appeal.
Commenting on the sale of the painting, Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, Head of Sothebys Denmark, said: Kr°yers Summer Evening on Skagens South Beach is one of the most recognised and widely published images of Danish art: the huge circulation of postcards and posters is a testament to its popularity in Denmark. The reappearance of this oil study is an exciting event for the Danish public and for the wider world.
The present work which measures 45 by 47 cm (17Ż by 18Ż in.) depicts Marie Kr°yer, the painters wife, with Anna Ancher arm in arm walking along the shore on Skagens South Beach. The scene was inspired by a post-dinner stroll with Kr°yer and Marie, fellow Skagen artists Michael and Anna Ancher, and authors Otto Benzon and Sophus Schandorph and their wives.
The other three oils that relate to the larger composition comprise two landscape format studies of the shoreline with Marie and Anna in the distance, and one other slightly larger square format figure study. In the two landscape studies, now in the Hirschprung Collection, Copenhagen, Kr°yer captures the scene that he had witnessed after dinner with his friends of two elegant ladies walking by the shoreline, surrounded by the tranquil expanse of sea, sand and sky. In preparation for transferring the motif onto the final large scale canvas, he took photographs of his wife with Anna walking along the shore. He then painted the present oil sketch and the slightly larger version now in a private UK collection, before embarking on the full scale composition.
The power of the present work was fully appreciated by Kr°yers artist companions at Skagen, to the extent that fellow painter Michael Ancher secretly painted a copy of it (now in the collection of the Michael and Anna Ancher House, Skagen), only confessing his actions in a letter to Kr°yer a little later. Until the re-appearance of Marie Kr°yer and Anna Ancher on the Beach at Skagen, the painting Ancher was thought to have copied was the other privately-owned figure study.
Kr°yers interest in mood painting was strongly influenced by the work of the American painter James McNeill Whistler; he would have seen Whistlers monochrome nocturnes in different exhibitions in Paris and London during the 1880s and early 1890s. As his attachment to Skagen grew, the surrounding vistas provided him with the ideal environment in which to explore this direction in his art.
Kr°yer exhibited the finished large-scale version of Summer Evening on Skagens South Beach at the Salon du Champ de Mars in Paris in 1895, and later the same year in Munich with the Secessionists, selling it to the German opera singer Lilli Lehman. Of the smaller related landscapes Kr°yer dedicated one to the Schandorphs and the other to Hirschprung. The present work was acquired by Queen Margherita of Italy, in whose collection it was recorded in a 1923 listing of Kr°yer's oil paintings. The work has remained with the Royal House of Savoy ever since until being acquired by the present owner in the spring of this year.
*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyers premium.