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Behind the painting: Martinus Rørbye’s “The Prison of Copenhagen”, 1831

Considering how many danish artists and architects traveled to Italy as part of their studies throughout the 18th and 19th century, it is not surprising that some parts and buildings of Copenhagen have a distinct mark of Italian style. That is especially the case in the areas of the city that were destroyed during the great fire of 1795 and the British bombardment in 1807.

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Behind the painting: Jens Juel’s “The Ryberg Family”

As a historian I find portraits of historic people to be extremely interesting, especially portraits which they had stood model for themselves. Not only do they give us a chance to look the people we as historians read and write about straight in the eyes, but they also give us a chance to see how they wanted to portray themselves.

One of my favorite portraits is by the Danish painter Jens Juel (1745-1802) titled “Niels Ryberg with his son Johan Christian and daughter in law Engelke, born Falbe”, though it is more commonly known as “The Ryberg Family”.

Facebook: a source for historic pictures

I might be a bit late on this “discovery” but recently I’ve become aware of how good a source Facebook can in fact be, when it comes to historic pictures. If you look in the right places, there are plenty of interesting galleries with photos, paintings and images from history. Of course I will not recommend using pictures from Facebook in academic work or articles, but when you are looking for pictures for your work, it can be a really good inspiration. Read more

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The power of a memo

Sometimes you can be surprised by how much influence a simple email or a memo might have. In the autumn of 2011 I was an intern at the Danish Cultural Institute in Tallinn. At that time plans for the renovation of the Danish King’s Garden in Tallinn were underway. The garden holds the monument for the myth surrounding the danish national flag, Dannebrog, which is said to have fallen from the sky there during a battle in 1219, just as the Danish crusading army was faltering and close to collapse. The falling flag was, according to the myth, seen as a sign from God, and the army rallied and won the day, or at least, so goes the tale. Read more