Saturday, October 5, 2013


Pigalle's Mercury by Niels Christian Hansen (1834-1922), c.1890
Charcoal and pencil, 48.5cm x 82 cm
from the recently discovered portfolio of works in Berlin, from Auctionata, Berlin.

From their catalogue description: Niels Christian Hansen, a portrait painter from Copenhagen, left his photo studio in Copenhagen in 1889 and presumably went on a "Grand Tour" to visit continental Europe's museums. He made studies of all the important sculptures and busts and amongst them also the beautiful sculpture of Mercury attaching his winged shoes. Originally created by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785) in 1748 to enter into the Académie Royale, the sculpture had been a huge success and immediately got copied many times over. Hansen's drawing fascinates through its extreme detail. 

N. C. Hansen studied at the Royal Danish Academy for Arts in 1851 and started working as a portrait painter in 1855/56. During this time, photography began to rise and Hansen, instead of fighting the new medium, adapted to it. He joined a partnership with a photographer and soon their company Hansen, Schou & Weller became the most famous photo studio in Copenhagen. They took pictures of all the important people of their time and many of their photographs can today be found in the most exclusive portrait collections worldwide.

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