The Enigmatic Collector. Helge Jacobsen’s Pinacotheca

Special Exhibitions /28.02 - 18.10.2020

Helge Jacobsen (1882-1946) is today unknown to most, overshadowed by his famous father, the brewer Carl Jacobsen.

Børsen: “World Class French Paintings”
Kunstavisen: “Exquisite Collection of French Paintings”


Kr. Dagblad

But as museum director and foundation chairman Helge Jacobsen has been of immeasurable importance for the arts in Denmark. He stated on several occasions that he saw it as his duty to continue the work of his father, but he also made it clear that he wanted to pursue his personal passion for modern French painting. The Enigmatic Collector: Helge Jacobsen’s Pinacotheca is the first exhibition to tell his story.

A Reserved Man
Like their father, Helge Jacobsen and his younger brother Vagn were trained in the craft of brewing in both Europe and the US, ready to take over the Carlsberg brewery. But the sons did not live up to their father’s expectations, and Helge never played any leading role at the brewery.
Helge Jacobsen lived a quiet life in his luxurious villa north of Copenhagen. He was reserved with other people, and called himself “a weak vessel”. He was at his happiest when walking anonymously on the streets of London, far from Copenhagen.

He did not possess the same kind of wealth as his father and grandfather, the founder of Carlsberg J.C. Jacobsen, and liked to present himself as a man of limited means. He was in fact a wealthy man, but a man who chose to use his money on his passion in life: art.

A Pinacotheca in Copenhagen
After the death of his father in 1914 Helge Jacobsen succeeded him at the helm of both the Glyptotek and New Carlsberg Foundation. He was director of the Glyptotek from 1915 to 1925, and chairman of the New Carlsberg foundation from 1914 until his death in 1946, a period during which the foundation funded a vast number of art commissions for public buildings throughout Denmark. Shortly after assuming the position of museum director Helge Jacobsen announced his ambition to create a pinacotheca – a painting collection – at the Glyptotek. The pinacotheca was to be a collection of modern French masterpieces: Helge Jacobsen wanted to give Danes the opportunity to experience modern art.

One of the central themes of the exhibition is the creation of the Glyptotek’s French painting collection, which includes works by Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet, as well as Helge Jacobsen’s absolute favourite – Paul Gauguin. Through astute strategic manoeuvres and in fierce competition with other contemporary collectors he created one of Denmark’s most important collections of French masterpieces at the Glyptotek.

This special exhibition includes a large range of these masterpieces, together with extensive and previously unexhibited archive materials, including photographs charting the life and story of Denmark’s enigmatic collector – Helge Jacobsen.

Listen to three short stories about Helge Jacobsen from the exhibition (in English)

#1 Letter to Helge Jacobsen dated February 8th, 1903

#2 Letter to Helge Jacobsen dated January 5th, 1914

#3 Letter to Wilhelm Hansen dated September 15th 1918

Our sincere thanks for generous support for the exhibition from:
Augustinus Fonden
Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond

Read more +


See the exciting activities and events, the Glyptotek has to offer. Please note, the events in Danish will not be presented here. Go to the Danish version of the homepage to see all events.


Enjoy a delicious lunch at Picnic overlooking the Glyptotek's beautiful Winter Garden.

After Nature

Experience a new reading of the Glyptotek’s paintings by the Danish writer Josefine Klougart