RØRBYE, Martinus
(b. 1803, Drammen, d. 1848, København)


Danish painter. His father was a civil servant in Norway, but the family had to leave the country after Norway's separation from Denmark in 1814. He began his studies at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen in 1820. A student there for over ten years, he failed to win the major gold medal in spite of repeated attempts. His teacher was Christian August Lorentzen (1746-1828), but Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg also gave him private painting lessons. Even as a student Rorbye enjoyed some success, selling genre scenes to the royal family and portraits set in interiors to the middle classes of Copenhagen. He exhibited at Charlottenborg most years between 1824 and 1848, and in 1849 his widow exhibited 12 of his paintings, mostly of Italian subjects.

In 1830 and 1832 Rørbye travelled to Norway. He is known as an inveterate traveller. His first grand tour, which he took in 1834-37, took him Paris, Rome, Sicily, Greece and Turkey. In Paris he studied French contemporary art. He greatly admired Horace Vernet, in particular his exotic, oriental subjects. He also admired Théodore Géricault's Raft of the Medusa but, strangely, disliked the work of Eugène Delacroix.

After Paris, Rørbye travelled to Rome, to Sicily and then, with the architect Gotlieb Bindesbøll, to Athens and Constantinople. Later in life, he undertook many more journeys, travelling to Italy in 1839-41 and to Sweden in 1844. That same year he was appointed Professor at the school of modelling at the Copenhagen Academy.

Following Eckersberg's example, Rørbye was essentially a painter of genre pieces and architecture. His pictures were factual but displayed a uniquely sympathetic view of the people he painted. He also painted a few portraits and landscapes, the latter often inspired by Dahl and, to a certain extent, by Caspar David Friedrich.

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