Christen Købke

The Glyptotek Acquires Rare Købke Painting

Published 10 March 2022

The Glyptotek has acquired an atypical work by Christen Købke, dramatically different from the artist’s other works represented in museums in Denmark and abroad. The new acquisition, En bacchantinde på en søtiger (A Bacchante on a Sea Tiger) is now on display in the museum as part of a comprehensive presentation of the Glyptotek’s collection of Danish Art from 1780 to 1930.

With generous support from foundations etc., the Glyptotek has just acquired a new painting by the Danish Golden Age painter, Christen Købke (1810 – 1848). The work is highly uncharacteristic of the Danish artist, who is best known for his landscape paintings and portraits. But the painting, En bacchantinde på en søtiger (1839) reveals a more decorative and less familiar aspect of the artist’s work.

“Not only does this new acquisition significantly enhance the Glyptotek’s collection of Golden Age Art; it also differs considerably from the current representation of the artist’s work in museums both in Denmark and abroad,” says Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen, Director of the Glyptotek.

The painting depicts a voluptuous bacchante – in Roman mythology a female votary of Bacchus, god of wine and ecstasy. Købke’s bacchante follows the movement of the sea tiger – a motif known from the Bacchus cult in Pompeii. She is pouring wine for the sea tiger, and her naked body is curvaceously erotic.

Antiquity and Golden Age in a single work
“The motif combines ancient mythology with the Danish Golden Age – delightfully underscoring the connection between the painting and antiquity collections of the Glyptotek. The museum has several works from the Golden Age portraying archaeological finds. The work by Købke is a significant contribution to this category, enhancing the connection that is so special for the museum. There is something surprising about its subtle erotic energy and virtuosity, and it provides hitherto largely unknown insight into the decorative aspect of the artist’s work,” explains Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen.

En bacchantinde på en søtiger is one of the now 22 works by Christen Købke in the museum’s collection. Most of the works are portraits, city views of Copenhagen, and studies of interiors and models. But between 1838 and 1840 the artist painted four pictures, while staying in Rome and Naples, and on Capri. As the only Pompeiian motif, the Glyptotek’s new acquisition is strikingly different from the other three works, all of which are landscape paintings.

En bacchantinde på en søtiger (1839). Oil on canvas. 62 x 88.5 cm. The painting can be seen at the Glyptotek, collection of Danish Art from 1780 to 1930 (exhibition hall 55).

The work was acquired with support from the New Carlsberg Foundation, Paula Fanny Johanne & Bertrand Olsens Legat and private donations, and has just undergone conservation.

Christen Købke

En bacchantinde på en søtiger (A Bacchante on a Sea Tiger)

About the museum

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek was founded by the brewer, Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914), who was one of the great industrial magnates of the 19th century and the greatest art patron Denmark has seen.


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