The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Horneman

  • Torben Holck Colding, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 1994
  • This is a re-publication of the article: Torben Holck Kolding: ‘Horneman’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1994, p. 94-102.
    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.

At his death in 1802 Jens Juel left a vacuum in portrait art that was not completely filled until about the middle of the 1820s when Eckersberg and C. A. Jensen began their careers as pastellists. In the meantime the gap was to some extent filled by a number of minor painters. One of the best of these was Christian Horneman, who as a pastellist continued a tradition deriving from Jens Juel into the first decades of the 19th century. He is the best pastellist of the period. His artistic kinship with Jens Juel is evident, but his portrait style is often more emotional and romantic, at times almost dramatic. In such works one can sense that during his travels in Southern Europe he had made the acquaintance of Angelica Kaufmann’s art and of the two Tischbeins, Wilhelm and Joh. Friedrich August. Also Heinrich Füger, whom he met in Austria, influenced his pastels, especially, perhaps, in his drawing technique.

Horneman’s earliest known dated pastel is from 1806 and depicts Princess Louise Charlotte (Jægerspris). Among his best pastels are the portrait at Rosenborg of the future Christian VIII, painted in 1810, which the sitter himself was particularly fond of, a portrait of Jens Baggesen (University Library, Kiel), executed in 1813-14, and his Self-Portrait (Frederiksborg) from 1815. Of the latter Horneman wrote: “My intention of painting in pastel with the same force as in oil has succeeded completely.”

In 1824 he wrote in a letter to Thorvaldsen that he had acquired a worrisome rival in C. A. Jensen. Horneman’s life became plagued by personal griefs and failing health, and at the end of the 1820s he ceased his artistic production almost entirely.

Last updated 11.05.2017