The Nivaagaard Collection: Explore a world of art surrounded by nature
By Heidi Kokborg | Photos: The Nivaagaard Collection
The Nivaagaard Collection is for everyone looking to spend a day in the countryside diving deep into art history. Here, you can experience art from the Italian Renaissance, the Dutch Baroque and the Danish Golden Age, and witness an extraordinary story of a lost mother being reunited with her husband and son.
Wander around the mesmerising museum and get lost in a world of art. Take a stroll under beautiful old trees and amongst abundant rhododendrons in the romantic garden. Enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a delicious cake. A day at The Nivaagaard Collection is balm for the soul and the mind.
“You get away from all the hustle and bustle, and you get to spend a day in the countryside surrounded by an astonishing art collection. The museum is intimate and cosy, which our guests appreciate. We have a lot of volunteers and locals working at the museum, which creates a sense of generosity. There is a very special atmosphere at the museum,” says musuem director Andrea Rygg Karberg.
Despite being nestled in a horticultural oasis, The Nivaagaard Collection is only 20 minutes from Copenhagen. Simply hop on a train from any of the major train stations in the Danish capital and walk the 800 metres from Nivå Station to the museum.
A tribute to Denmark and democracy
The Nivaagaard Collection was founded by landowner and politician Johannes Hage (1842-1923). Most of the art on diplay is his own private collection of works from the Italian Renaissance, the Dutch Baroque, and the Danish Golden Age, which he donated to the state and made public in 1908. Johannes Hage’s parents were a part of the upper class during the Danish Golden Age, and the family was surrounded by renowned Danish artists. But there is dark side to Johannes Hage’s privileged life that became the driving force for his generosity.
“Johannes Hage fought in the Second Schleswig War in 1864. He lost a brother, and Hage was wounded. Denmark’s defeat by Prussia and Austria affected Hage and his whole generation greatly. In the aftermath of the war, Hage worked tirelessly to restore the pride of his country by, amongst other things, donating his entire art collection to the state,” says Rygg Karberg.
Johannes Hage never married or had any children. His art collection was his life’s work. He opened the museum in 1908 and, until his death in 1923, he welcomed visitors in the museum building right next to his manor house. Everything he owned apart from the art collection was gifted to Fonden Den Hageske Stiftelse, a charity dedicated to the support of people suffering from mental illness.
“He was a philanthropist. Coming from a privileged background he felt it was his responsibility and duty to give back to his country and society,” says Rygg Karberg. Hage was strongly influenced by his ancestors’ contributions to the rise of democracy in Denmark, and by the notion that democracy must be earned. Rygg Karberg believes there is still much to be learnt from this today.
“It is beautiful and inspiring. When Danish democracy was established, it was regarded as a privilege one should live up to. It was your responsibility to educate yourself and stay up to date with current events; something we could all learn from in today’s world.”
Witness a rare art discovery
If you love a little detective work mixed with a bit of mystery, you will want to pay The Nivaagaard Collection a visit and witness an absolutely extraordinary story. An on-going research project at The Nivaagaard Collection has resulted in the incredible discovery of a mother who was missing for almost 200 years from a family portrait painted by the prestigious Antwerp artist Cornelius de Vos (1584-1651) .
“There has always been something unusual and mysterious about this portrait. In the lower right-hand corner you can see part of a dress, which suggests that the original painting included a mother,” says Rygg Karberg. This inspired researchers to hunt for the missing mother and, lo and behold, at the end of 2022, the prodigal mother was found.
“It was a miracle. The painting was with an art dealer in Switzerland. When the dealer purchased the painting, the background was a dark brown colour, but after being cleaned and restored, the painting revealed a lady with brown eyes and facial features that match the boy’s – and a background which is a complete match with the Nivaagaard portrait of the father and son,” says Rygg Karberg smilingly. It’s extremely rare for divided paintings from this era to be reunited, so this is not to be missed.
Web: www.nivaagaard.dk Instagram: @nivaagaard Facebook: Nivaagaards Malerisamling Current and future exhibitions The Artists Colonies Hornbæk & Arild: until 11 June 2023 Alfons Åberg (Alfie Atkins): 21 June - 17 September
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