KRØYER, Peter Severin
(b. 1851, Stavanger, d. 1909, Skagen)

Artists at Breakfast

1883
Oil on canvas, 82 x 61 cm
Skagens Museum, Skagen

Around 1870, growing numbers of Scandinavian (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish) artists took to visiting Paris, the modern metropolis with its many-sided art scene. They attended the school of Léon Bonnat, or the Académie Julian, or the Académie Colarossi. Some of them were tutored by Jean-Léon Gérôme. When summer arrived and tuition ceased at the private schools in Paris, the artists deserted the city. The coast of Brittany was especially popular for painting holidays. In the 1880s, there was a Swedish artists' colony at Grèz-sur-Loing, by the Fontainebleau woods.

In due course the artists took the idea of the artists' colony back to Scandinavia with them. The most famous of the northern colonies was at Skagen in Denmark. Many Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish artists returned there every summer, to paint in the fine northern light in the company of friends old and new.

There is a direct continuity from plein-airisme of the true outdoor kind to interiors that record the immediate effects of sunlight. The Skagen painters were particularly fond of this effect. Krøyer's Artists at Breakfast was a logical developments of motifs he had worked on previously in France. The painting portrays Danish, Norwegian and Swedish artists at table. The objects on the table stand out in the strong sunlight in red and green against the white cloth. The light effectively glows in Krohg's bushy gingery beard and catches the sleeve of Charles Lundh's jacket. The loose brushwork and inexact outlines highlight the sense that a lively and significant moment has been captured.