Karl Madsen
Carl Johan Wilhelm Madsen, commonly known as Karl Madsen, (1855–1938) was a Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 painter and art historian who after close connections with the Skagen Painters
Skagen Painters
The Skagen Painters were a group of Scandinavian artists who gathered in the area of Skagen, the northernmost part of Denmark, from the late 1870s until the turn of the century...

 joined the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he was museum director from 1911–1925.


Born in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 on 22 March 1855, Madsen was the son of painters Andreas Peter Madsen and Sophie Thorsøe Madsen. He completed his schooling at Sorø Academy before attending C.V. Nielsen's art school in 1871. From 1872–1876, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy.

Madsen was greatly influenced in the early 1870s by the radical new departure
Modern Breakthrough
The Modern Breakthrough is the normal name of the strong movement of naturalism and debating literature of Scandinavia near the end of the 19th century which replaced romanticism....

 in Danish culture, led by Georg Brandes
Georg Brandes
Georg Morris Cohen Brandes was a Danish critic and scholar who had great influence on Scandinavian and European literature from the 1870s through the turn of the 20th century. He is seen as the theorist behind the "Modern Breakthrough" of Scandinavian culture...

, whose lectures at Copenhagen University he followed, and Holger Drachmann
Holger Drachmann
Holger Henrik Herholdt Drachmann , was a Danish poet and dramatist. He is an outstanding figure of the Modern Break-Through....

, who published his strong views on Danish art
Art of Denmark
Danish art goes back thousands of years with significant artifacts from the 2nd millennium BC, such as the Trundholm sun chariot. Art from modern Denmark forms part of the art of the Nordic Bronze Age, and then Norse and Viking art...

 and on disappointing conditions at the Art Academy. In 1871, Drachmann went to Skagen
Skagen is a projection of land and a town, with a population of 8,515 , in Region Nordjylland on the northernmost tip of Vendsyssel-Thy, a part of the Jutland peninsula in northern Denmark...

, a fishing village at the northernmost tip of Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

, to paint outdoor scenes and the local fishermen. Almost simultaneously, Madsen also arrived in Skagen.
During his first year at the Art Academy, he met Michael Ancher, whom he persuaded to join him in Skagen in July 1874. There he gave Anna Brøndom, later Anna Ancher, lessons in painting. His art work in 1873–1874 and from 1879–1880 shows that he was one of the key figures among the Skagen Painters. His portraits had a vitality comparable to those of Michael and Anna Ancher and Christian Krohg
Christian Krohg
Christian Krohg , was a Norwegian naturalist painter, illustrator, author and journalist.-Life and career:...

, but he lacked the virtuosity and sense of colour enjoyed by Peder Severin Krøyer
Peder Severin Krøyer
Peder Severin Krøyer , known as P.S. Krøyer, was a Norwegian-Danish painter. He is one of the best known and beloved, and undeniably the most colorful of the Skagen Painters, a community of Danish and Nordic artists who lived, gathered or worked in Skagen, Denmark, especially during the final...

, Viggo Johansen
Viggo Johansen
Viggo Johansen was a Danish painter and active member of the group of Skagen Painters who met every summer in the north of Jutland. He was one of Denmark's most prominent painters in the 1890s.-Career:...

 and the Swedish and Norwegian painters. His most interesting works are perhaps those from his last year in Paris where he came under the influence of the Barbizon school
Barbizon school
The Barbizon school of painters were part of a movement towards realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870...

 and possibly Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism....

, although they still tend to be rather dark and dull compared to the brighter works of the Impressionists
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 who were influenced by the young Naturalists.

The gap between Madsen and the trends of the times as well as his own economic problems were probably behind his decision to become a professional writer. On Drachmann's recommendation, he became an art critic with Dagavisen in 1881. As a frequent contributor to Politiken
Politiken is a Danish daily broadsheet newspaper, published by JP/Politikens Hus.The newspaper comes third among Danish newspapers in terms of both number of readers and circulated copies ....

and other periodicals, he became one of Denmark's most influential art commentators and critics. He was a champion of Dutch art and wrote a pioneering book on the art of Japan. As a museum expert, Madsen became recognized as an authority on Dutch art and brought about a reassessment of Danish art in the first half of the 19th century, especially with his biography of Johan Lundbye
Johan Lundbye
Johan Thomas Lundbye was a promising young Danish painter and graphic artist, known for his animal and landscape paintings who died at the age of 29...

in 1895. In 1928, he became director of Skagens Museum.
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