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Frederik Carl Julius Kraft

(1823–1854, Copenhagen)

Campagna Landscape in the Evening Light. Oil on cardboard. 33.5 x 42.6 cm. Circa 1851/53. Signed: “F. Kraft”.

The landscape painter, Frederik Kraft, was the illegitimate son of Christian VIII, King of Denmark and Norway and Sophie Frederikke Tronier. He began studying at a very young age at the Copenhagen Academy in 1838 and first exhibited as a free­lance artist in 1843. In 1848 his landscape painting Faergelun­den ved Jaegerspris was purchased for the Royal Collection of Paintings (now in Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen). In its monumental scale and realistic interpretation of nature it comes very close to the work of P. C. Skovgaard. An academic stipend enabled Kraft to live and work from 1851 to 1853 in Italy, where he mostly painted landscapes. Shortly after returning to Copenhagen the artist died at the early age of thirty-one.

The present landscape impression is distinguished by a vigorous and very reductive style of painting. A few accurate and flowing strokes of the brush are sufficient to capture the character and atmosphere of the southern landscape in a consummate and convincing manner. The wide, deserted landscape is bathed in the mild, early evening light; the rapidly executed haystacks provide a striking visual focus. The artist has meticulously rendered the fine gradations in the evening sky. The simplicity and succinctness of the study give it a timeless modernity.

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