Christine Swane

1876Kerteminde, Denmark | 1960Farum, Denmark
Christine Swane — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Christine Swane, © ARKIVDK

Danish painter and ceramicist.

In her early years Christine Swane (née Larsen), was influenced by the artistic environment on Funen that she got to know through her brother Johannes Larsen (1867-1961) who was a painter and taught her. She received fundamental drawing lessons from Fritz Syberg (1862-1939), and was influenced by Alhed Larsen (1872-1927) and the floral paintings of Anna Syberg (1870-1914) – all Funen-based painters with a naturalistic style. Between 1898 and 1901 she was enrolled as a student at Den med akademiet forbundne Kvindeskole, the women’s school connected to the Royal Danish Academy, but never graduated. In 1900 she received tuition by the Danish vitalistic painter Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (1863-1958) and later assisted him transferring his iconic painting Bjergbestigersken [A mountain climber, 1912] from cardboard to canvas. She completed her education at F. Syberg’s art school for female painters in Copenhagen. Her work Voksende levkøjer og gyldenlak [Growing Matthiola Annua and Erysimum Cheiri, 1906] was accepted at Charlottenborg’s spring exhibition in 1907, after several rejections of other works in previous years. It is a classic early work by C. Swane, with clear refences to the Funen painters. Its close-up, rich colour nuances and exquisite details place the viewer in midst of a fertile land full of flowers.

In 1910 there was a shift in her oeuvre. She met Karl Isakson (1878-1922) and Sigurd Swane (1879-1973) who later became her husband. All three of them where inspired by the new French artistic movements of the early 20th century. Fauvism, impressionism and other early modernist modes of painterly expression liberated her from the Funen naturalism that had previously characterised her work. In early 1919 she exhibited more than 65 oil paintings, 20 watercolours and a number of drawings, in a joint exhibition at Den Frie with her husband. In 1920 she and S. Swane searched for artistic guidance from Harald Giersing (1881-1927) who introduced her to cubism. In the following two decades, after her divorce, she organised a life for herself and her son, insisting on her artistic practice despite the obstacles of gender and poverty. C. Swane developed a visual language with which she shaped different scenes often from a domestic sphere. With simple outlines, geometrical shapes and carefully chosen colour nuances she gave poetic life to various arrangements of objects on tables and windowsills, placing the conventional as essential for her artistic investigation of form, surface and colour. She kept developing and sought inspiration through travel, both nationally and internationally. Her still lifes and other portrayals of flowers, bouquets and plants constituted leitmotivs in her practice. She worked with ceramic from 1926 and experimented with different textiles. In these media she defined and refined her sense of materiality, colour and composition.

She had several solo and group exhibitions throughout her career and received the Tagea Brandt Travel Scholarship in 1938 and the Eckersberg Medal in 1943. Several permanent collections such as the Statens Museum for Kunst – National Gallery of Denmark, the Faaborg Museum, the Johannes Larsen Museet, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum and Ny Carlsbergfondet bear witness of C. Swane’s unique contribution to Danish modernism.

Rebekka Laugesen

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Linked article
Linked theme
Discover other artists
Biography published in the framework of the program
Program TEAM: Teaching, E-learning, Agency, Mentoring

of Women Artists
& Exhibitions

Facebook - AWARE Twitter - AWARE Instagram - AWARE
Villa Vassilieff - 21, avenue du Maine 75015 Paris (France) — info[at]aware-art[.]org — +33 (0)1 55 26 90 29