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P.S. Krøyer: Portrait of Heinrich og Pauline Hirschsprung. 1877. The Hirschsprung Collection
P.S. Krøyer: Portrait of Heinrich og Pauline Hirschsprung. 1877. The Hirschsprung Collection

Nordic Art - Jewish Heart

Research into Jewish art collectors and cultural patrons in the Nordic countries

The project sheds light on an overlooked chapter in the cultural history of the Nordic countries: How and why did Jewish art collectors become so important to Danish and Nordic art history 1870-1930?

The Hirschsprung Collection owes its existence to the Jewish Hirschsprung family. The museum opened in 1911 and has ever since been the epitome of Danish art history and an important reference point in a narrative on national identity and artistic developments. However, the museum and the Hirschsprung family are not a unique case. Just across the Sound in Swedish Gothenburg and further away in Stockholm, we find Jewish families such as the Fürstenbergs and Thiels who also collected art, built museums and supported artists. This Jewish effort to promote culture was an integrated part of the surrounding society.

The many connections and perspectives that make up this chapter in the relationship between Jewish culture and national identity are still under-examined in spite of a strong relevance for international Jewish studies, research in art and cultural history and newer studies in nationalism.

The Hirschsprung Collection is therefore partnering with the Danish Jewish Museum and a number of Swedish researchers in order to uncover an overlooked but decisive moment in Nordic cultural history.

The project asks the following questions

What motives can explain why a handful of Jewish families – the Hirschsprungs, Fürstenbergs, Thiels and others – came to influence culture in the Nordic countries so decisively?

What impact had Jewish minority culture and the support of arts and culture on the national identities of the majority culture?

What relevant insights for the present day will the project be able to tell about culture, identity and integration?

Long-term, the project seeks to position a number of art museums and Danish-Swedish connections within an international, Jewish cultural history – for the public as well as in an international research community.

Want to know more?

Then contact project leader and curator Rasmus, PhD, at:


The research is supported by Augustinus Fonden and Kulturministeriets Forskningsfond.