Anna Sophie Petersen: 'An Evening with a Friend. By Lamplight'. 1891. The Hirschsprung Collection

The Modern Breakthrough from the women’s perspective

28 August 2024 - 12 January 2025

The Modern Breakthrough is a firmly established part of the story of the birth of modern Denmark. It is a time shaped by Georg Brandes’s epoch-defining demands for new narratives and a rejection of old hierarchies, and authors such as Henrik Pontoppidan and Herman Bang came up with their takes on new, up-to-date narratives. Visual artists also entered the fray, exploring new subject matter that put contemporary problems up for discussion.

But were men the only ones who had something to say? And what happens when you replace names like Peder Severin Krøyer, Erik Henningsen and L.A. Ring with those of Anna Ancher, Augusta Dohlmann, Anna Sophie Petersen, Johanne Krebs and Sofie Holten? A major exhibition at The Hirschsprung Collection unveils another kind of Modern Breakthrough. Here we show a selection, unprecedented in scope, of women artists who had their breakthrough on the art scene during this pivotal period in Denmark when the world opened up and women got greater opportunities for self-expression.

Using the Modern Breakthrough as a lens, The Hirschsprung Collection homes in on the women’s contribution to the visual arts of the period, mapping out their production, the themes they addressed and the questions and problems they put up for discussion. The exhibition unpacks how they processed and renegotiated subjects, themes and strategies they encountered in established art. In so doing, we expand, nuance and challenge the established perception of this landmark period, presenting a selection of works previously unknown to the public from a crucial turning point in Denmark’s history.

Augusta Dohlmann
Augusta Dohlmann: 'Portrait of a Woman with her Hair Up', 1886, The Hirschsprung Collection.
Wegmann Interiør med markbuket og kunstnerens malerkasse
Bertha Wegmann: 'Arrangement with Field Bouquet and the Artist’s Palette', (1880s). The Hirschsprung Collection.