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Jørgen Sonne: 'Field Guard in Schleswig near Hammelev in 1848. Early Summer Morning'. 1851. The Hirschsprung Collection


Spring 2024

Modern Denmark was born with the Schleswig Wars (1848–51 and 1864). Thousands died or were maimed, and families and communities were torn apart. The era also saw the introduction of the constitution, democracy and freedom of the press. In the middle of it all stood the soldiers; no longer mercenaries or farmers conscripted to fight, but young citizens from all walks of life.

SOLDIERS is an exhibition about art and the popular image of the people’s warrior which arose with the wars in the 1800s. For the first time ever, the Danish soldier was given a leading role in general culture. The home front closely followed the war through photographic reports. Danish soldiers, student volunteers and sailors became heroes in large battle paintings. But art also tackled problems and conflicts. Families had to send their sons to the wars and, later, to receive and accommodate the returning veterans.

SOLDIERS is an exhibition about the ordinary Danish soldier. We see him in the field and on the battlefield, at camp and on leave. And we meet his family and the community to which he returned. The exhibition is also about visual strategies and blind spots. How did we perceive and understand the soldiers and their struggles? Could death and grief be accommodated in art? What happened to the scars of those who came home from the wars?

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J. Th. Lundbye: 'Svend Grundtvig and Chr. Fr. Lütken Sharpening their Sabres on Butcher Andresen’s Whetstone'. 1848. The Hirschsprung Collection.