Harald Giersing (1881–1927) is considered one of the key figures among the young generation of Danish modernists. He renewed and challenged naturalist painting and experimented with colours, topics and composition. He drew inspiration from prominent French artists, such as Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne, whom he met during his sojourn in Paris.
At Faaborg Museum, which already owns several portrait paintings by the artist, Giersing is known for his connection to the Funen Painters. Giersing was married to the daughter of Fritz and Anna Syberg, both members of the group, and his artistic practice became a source of inspiration for the Funen Painters.
A soldier falls in
In Giersing’s paintings, the representation is often summary, the paint applied in broad, loose brushstrokes. En soldat (A Soldier) from 1914, which is now included in the collection of Faaborg Museum is no exception. The uniformed figure has a calm presence, centrally positioned in the painting. The restricted colour scale, limited almost exclusively to dark greens, almost makes the figure’s uniform blend into the background. Side-lit, the figure’s face emerges and stands out from the many dark shades of green, capturing the viewer’s attention. His face is tilted slightly forward, his gaze downcast – the uniform alone indicates the subject matter reflected in the title.
The Funen Painters’ extended family circle
The uniformed figure is art historian Leo Swane, who went on to become director of SMK – National Gallery of Denmark. During the First World War, he was called up for the Danish Defence Force. Along with Giersing, Swane belongs to the Funen Painters’ ‘extended family circle’. In part because Swane wrote about several of the artists in the group in his role as art historian and in part because his brother, Sigurd Swane, from 1910 to 1920 was married to the painter Christine Swane, the sister of Johannes Larsen, another prominent member of the group.
‘There are several threads connecting this painting by Giersing to the city of Faaborg, which makes it a particular pleasure for the Foundation to be able to donate one of Giersing’s principal pieces to Faaborg Museum’s impressive collection,’ says Christine Buhl Andersen, chairwoman of the New Carlsberg Foundation.
About Harald Giersing
Harald Giersing (1881–1927) was born in Frederiksberg. He trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and later (in 1904–06) took lessons from Kristian Zahrtmann. He was married to Besse Syberg, the daughter of Anna and Fritz Syberg. The couple lived and worked in Copenhagen but summered in their cottage in Svanninge near Faaborg. Giersing wrote for the art and literature magazine Klingen and was one of the principal drivers behind the fracturing of Den Frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition), which led to the founding of the artists’ co-operative Grønningen (The Common).