Hans Ludwig Smidth Biography

Hans Ludwig Smidth




Danish painter Hans Ludvig Smidth was born in Naksov November 2, 1839. After graduating from high school, he intended to pursue a medical degree but was quickly drawn to art. He enrolled at the Danish Academy in 1861, studying under Niels Simonsen, but was unable to complete his studies due to financial hardship. Leaving the school in 1866, he continued to study and paint on his own time, focusing on scenes of Jutland and Limfjord.

Smidth’s first exhibition was held in Charlottenborg in 1867, and he would frequently exhibit there throughout his career. An appreciation for his regionalist subject matter made him a favorite of Danish collectors, though it would be some time until his audience broadened. From 1870 to ‘71, he studied under Vilhelm Kyhn, which proved to be a turning point in his use of color and tone, and in 1877 he earned the Neuhausen Prize in 1877.

It wasn’t until the year 1900, however, that he experienced full recognition for his work. That year the Danish Art Society arranged a special exhibition of the artist's work although he was now 60. Of the 300 works in the retrospective, 290 were sold, an unprecedented number. His style managed to retain an authenticity and uniqueness in a time when Art Nouveau was at its height in popularity; Smidth’s lack of historical or mythical figures, and his disinterest in purely decorative aesthete, was an unexpected boon for the otherwise low-flying artist. As well, his work did not interpret scenes, as with the Skagen Painters. They simply depict the views of the people and the countryside as he saw them. His paintings show he had the same respect for the land as the peasants themselves. He was awarded the Eckersberg Medal in 1906.

Hans Ludvig Smidth died on May 5th, 1917, in Frederiksberg, Denmark.