“Drachmann og hustru. Hele figurer stående.” Drachmann and his wife. Full length. Signed and dated S. K. Skagen 1905. Oil on panel. 41×32 cm.
H. Chr. Christensen, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of P. S. Krøyer no. 741.
Exhibited: Kunstforeningen, “P. S. Krøyer 1851–1909”, 1910 no. 314.
Provenance: P. S. Krøyer's estate auction, 1910 no. 193, here purchased by director Ernst Enna for DKK 610.
Director O. J. Løvengreen's collection, his auction, Winkel & Magnussen 362, 1950, no. 58.
The painting is a study for Krøyer's most famous work “Midsummer Eve Bonfire on Skagen’s Beach” from 1906 (at Art Museums of Skagen). In the painting, Krøyer has portrayed many of the local inhabitants and prominent citizens as well as several of his artist friends gathered around the Midsummer Eve bonfire on the beach. The group includes Marie Krøyer and the Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén leaning up against a boat in the background. Holger Drachmann is centrally located next to his wife Soffi Drachmann. The flames light up the image and come precariously close to the couple.
In this study, Krøyer has captured the Drachmann couple with his characteristic quick brush strokes as they watch the Midsummer Eve bonfire with different expressions. Holger Drachmann stands tall and straight with his distinctive white hair and beard, a wide-brimmed hat and a large black cape wrapped around him. With stoic calm, he considers the bonfire with the slightly distant gaze of an elderly man. In turn, Soffi Drachmann stands with flushed cheeks, big eyes, and a youthful expectancy and playful fascination, while considering the same flames.
“In 1903 Krøyer began painting 'Midsummer Eve bonfire on Skagen's beach'. At Midsummer Eve, he placed his easel on the beach, and he had notified his friends what lay ahead. When the fire was lit, they had all shown up around the old bascule light in Østerby. A little pastel and a few highlights were enough to set the composition. It was easy, warm and cold colours against each other, an orange line to mark the fire, and then the figures began to come to life.”
“Already on the first night, Drachmann placed himself where he wanted to be depicted. This was probably the worst place because sparks and heat from the fire made it almost impossible. Drachmann acknowledged the mistake and said to Krøyer: ”Dear Søren, if you let me stay here, my beard and hair will turn black, and besides, I hate the smoke.“ (Lise Svanholm: ”Malerne på Skagen", 2011, p. 240 and p. 242).
Reproduced on the cover of the catalogue.