History Paintings

Historical paintings have held a prominent place at The Museum of National History since the museum's formation in 1878. On a trip to France, brewer J.C. Jacobsen visited the historic museum in Versailles whereby French history could be studied through paintings. The museum made a deep impression on Jacobsen and it was here that he developed the idea to provide The Museum of National History with paintings that could capture Danish history and develop a Danish self-understanding.

Otto Bache's "The Conspirators Ride from Finnerup Barn After the Murder of Erik Klipping in 1286" was created in 1880-82 and was one of the museum's first acquisitions. The painting, which has developed into a significant monument to the national romantic conception of history, depicted Denmark's last regicide.


In 1889, the artist Laurits Tuxen was commissioned to create a monumental painting representing Arkona's indulgence under King Valdemar the Great and Bishop Absalon in 1169. The event is known from Saxo's Danish Chronicles, which was written upon Absalon's request.


The historical paintings form the basis of The Museum of National History's collection. In 1998, Thomas Kluge painted "A Short Stay" depicting Danish UN soldiers in Bosnia. In 2002, Martin Bigum painted four historical paintings of Christian IV's life for the museum's permanent children's exhibition. Finally, within the Modern Collection is the museum's most recent addition, Peter Carlsen's Denmark 2009, which features a characterisation of a country in transition.