‘I am delighted that you are beginning to find worthwhile motifs, wonder, though, if you should not simply stay and pursue your passion, precisely as you like, if you feel the least urge to do so, then do it, stay as long as you like, take on major assignments if you so desire, stay for years, do whatever the Hell you want, I feel that it might relieve your mind.’

Painter Fritz Syberg struggled at times with severe depressions. It is his wife, Anna, who in a letter dated 30 April 1905 delivers this equivocal pep talk, where equal parts hope, frustration and her own desire for freedom are evident both in and in between the lines. Anna Syberg’s letter, along with thousands of other letters to and from such artists as Johannes Larsen, Peter Hansen and Fritz Syberg, is now available online on the digital platform ‘Primary Sources in Danish Art History, PSiDAH’, which was developed by the New Carlsberg Foundation.

‘At the time of the Funen Painters, art and the artist’s personal life were closely intertwined. The Funen Painters in particular were known for inviting the public into their personal and intimate sphere through their paintings. The digital publication of this vast source material now offers an even richer first-hand impression of this important artists group,’ says Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen, director of Faaborg Museum.

Huge source material
For over a year, the Johannes Larsen Museum, Faaborg Museum and Byhistorisk Arkiv/Øhavsmuseet Faaborg have been busy digitizing and transcribing the large letter archives related to the artists which are kept at Faaborg Museum and the Johannes Larsen Museum. Several thousand letters and journal entries have been digitally scanned, transcribed and annotated. In addition, the database has been supplemented with biographies of the related persons and photographs of the works that are mentioned in the sources.
The official launch of the letter archive is was accompanied by introductions at the Johannes Larsen Museum (20 November at 14.00) and Faaborg Museum (23 November at 16.30).
Visit the letter archive (in Danish only).

The project continues until autumn 2018, as the New Carlsberg Foundation has approved additional grants for the museums to process most of this comprehensive material.

Primary Sources in Danish Art History, PSiDAH
The digitization project ‘Primary Sources in Danish Art History, PSiDAH’ is an initiative by the New Carlsberg Foundation, which provides the funds and a digital platform for the digitization process and online publication. PSiDAH also includes the digitization and online publication of other collections of source material about Danish artists and artists’ groups. Most recently, the personal journals of the Golden Age painter J. Th. Lundbye and the Skovgaard Archive in Viborg were added to PSiDAH.
Visit PSiDAH (in Danish only).

‘Unfortunately, art historians far too rarely go directly to the primary sources, mainly due to time constraints and a lack of accessibility. The project “Primary Sources in Danish Art History” is the New Carlsberg Foundation’s effort to remedy this omission. With this major initiative, we also hope to inspire others with an interest in art to search for new insights and knowledge in this fascinating source material,’ says Karsten Ohrt, chairman of the New Carlsberg Foundation.

About the Funen Painters
The artists’ circle the Funen Painters was an informal group in Danish art that consisted mainly of the painters who had studied at Kristian Zahrtmann’s free art school during the 1880s and who had a personal connection to the island of Funen. Other artists were associated with the group via family ties, marriage and friendships. The main emphasis is on the period of 1885–1927, which begins around the time when the art school Kunstnernes frie Studieskoler (The Artists’ Free Study Schools) was founded and concludes with the dissolution of the artists’ colony in Kerteminde.