December 30, 2008

The Art of Jens Juel

Jens Juel (1745 – 1802) was a danish painter primarily famous for his portrait painting. He was born in Balslev on the island of Fyn in Denmark. He showed a great interest in painting at an early age, so his parents arranged for him to study in Hamburg as an apprentice to the painter, Johann Michael Gehrman.

(Juel, Jens. Portrait of a Noblewoman with her son.
c. 1799. oil on canvas.)

Soon after improving his skills, Juel traveled extensively around Europe painting portraits. He worked in Dresden, Geneva, Rome and Paris before he finally settled down in Copenhagen. He then successfully forged an impressive reputation with his astute portraits and his well-mannered still life paintings. Juel was eventually appointed as the court painter in 1780.

(Juel, Jens. Still Life with Flowers. c. 1764.
oil on canvas. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany.)

Two hundres and seventy years later, Juel used the relaxed naturalism pose of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, including the intriguing subtlety of the expression. He uses the half figure pose with the subject’s upper body turned three quarters of the way toward the artist, Leonardo's composition is made up of a pyramid. Her shoulders form the sides and her head is at the peak, which naturally leads the eye of the viewer up to the eyes of the subject.

(Juel, Jens. Portrait of a Woman.
c. 1773. oil on canvas.)

His work was popular during the Neo-classic movement which began as a reaction against both the surviving Baroque & Rococo art styles. This movement was a desire to return to the perceived “purity” of the art of Rome. Neo-classical paintings are devoid of pastel colors & haziness, instead they have sharp colors or light-dark colors to contrast each other which creates a very dramatic effect.

(Juel, Jens. Portrait of Jean Armand Tronchin.
c. 1779. oil on canvas.)

In 1784, Juel became a professor at the Copenhagen Academy. He was regarded as a fine teacher and eventually became the director of the Academy in 1795.

(Juel, Jens. Still Life with Flowers. c. 1764.
oil on canvas. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany.)

Juel is famous for portrait painting but, I love his still life paintings with flowers most of all. The huge bright colored flowers that contrast with the dark background are both methodical as well as elegant and his work is much appreciated here!

Enjoy :)