I am just back from a couple of days visiting Copenhagen. The weather was bleak and dreary; the skies the colour of Hammershøi’s paintings but the city was anything but dull. I crammed in lots of art galleries revisiting the enchanting Hirschsprung Collection, crammed with works by the Skagen painters, who, at the close of the nineteenth century, congregated at Skagen, on the tip of Jutland, the northern most point of continental Europe, creating an artists’ colony. The painters went to Skagen for the exceptional light; it is worth visiting the Hirschsprung just to see the works of Peder Severin Krøyer who captures the light and beauty of the Skagen beaches exquisitely.
Another highlight was the David Collection, an elegant eighteenth century townhouse, formally the home of the prolific collector and wealthy and successful lawyer, Christian Ludvig David. He began collecting Danish Golden Age paintings and branched out first to European porcelain and furniture and then Islamic art. The Islamic Collection is world class and contains some exquisite jewellery and porcelain. The highlight for me was a room devoted to the work of Denmarks arguably most famous painter, Vilhelm Hammershøi. I love the calm quiet interiors, the clean lines and the soft grey palette that is so very northern.
I also visited the Renaissance Castle, Rosenborg- beautiful but dark, and I found the collection of Royal treasures slightly overwhelming. The rooms were a chronology of the riches of Danish kings- I realised don’t know my Frederiks and Christians well enough. Someone told me to read Rose Tremain’s novel, Music and Silence, to get a real feeling for the court of Christian IV.
I stayed in a relatively new hotel, 71, Nyhavn: a large warehouse that has been converted to a substantial sized hotel. The service and food were good and the design sleek and minimal although I missed out on a room with a view. The harbour at Nyhavn is very pretty-lined with colourful eighteenth century houses, all now listed buildings. Hans Christian Andersen lived at number 20. The Nyhavn of today, is alive with restaurants, bars and stalls selling souvenirs, food and mulled wine: a delightful place to wander down.