Peder Monsted

by Armand Cabrera

Peder Mork Monsted was born in 1859 in Denmark. At 16 he enrolled in the Academy at Copenhagen where he studied under Andries Fritz and Julius Exner . After Monsted left the academy at the age of twenty he studied with Peder Severin Kroyer in his studio and later Adolphe Bouguereau in Paris. He travelled extensively through Europe and North Africa. Although Monsted worked in an academic style, his paintings have a keen sense of light, most likely helped by his outdoor sketches. He died in 1941 at the age of 82.

One look at his work and you can see why he was considered the best landscape painter of his day in Denmark. While some of his genre paintings with figures fall into sugary clichés, the quality of his landscapes are untouchable. He was especially adept at depicting water and forest interiors.

I have little information on him beyond these few scraps from galleries and auction catalogs with his work. As far as I know there is no monograph on him.

I became aware of his work in the early 90’s though gallery ads in magazines and was lucky enough to have a local gallery that carried his work in Marin county where I lived at the time. What is missed in these reproductions is the scale of the paintings. The ones I saw were large- five or six feet across in most cases and they just glowed with that ambient light that anyone who has taken a walk through a forest is familiar with. The paint handling is controlled but the details are still suggested. He was a master at composing the complexities of a forest interior into an organized and believable design. His control of color and value is exquisite. I hope a museum will mount a show and produce a color catalog on this fine artist soon; he deserves it.

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24 thoughts on “Peder Monsted

  1. I want to say I can feel the Bougureau influence, they have that charm.
    I have never seen this artists work before. What a find! I will want to explore this more also!
    Thanks Armand.

  2. Wow, these are just amazing. Thanks for posting. I love the soft quality of light… just like the forest is in reality, and totally opposite what a photo captures.

  3. Thanks for spotlighting Monsted, Armand. I've just seen three of his originals, and they had more paint texture and energy than I would have guessed. Hope someone does a book on them. Do you think most of his work was done on location, or back in the studio?

  4. CLashley,
    As you've pointed out it looks nothing like a photo. He has really squeezed the value range and designed the lights and shadows with hue and temperature shifts.

  5. Jim,

    From what I've pieced together he sketched on location and worked up pieces in the studio. I have other images that look like smaller outdoor sketches from Italy and North Africa. They are still controlled but the level of information is nothing like his larger works. Of course until we get a monograph it's just a guess.

  6. One of my favorite landscape painters and in my opinion one of the finest landscape painters ever.

    Thanks for posting these.

    You can see a few in museums in Denmark but he's kind of unknown there as well.

    I would love to see some of these in person. He was a master of painting water from still to raging rivers.

  7. Jeff,

    Lets hope some smart art historian does a monograph, maybe through the Dahesh. Monsted is very popular with collectors in the auction houses and it seems there are plenty of paintings around. Might be the perfect time for a book.

  8. I agree. Amazon.com lists 6,852 separate titles for Picasso, but none for Peder Mønsted. In a better world, we'd have just 6,851 on Picasso and one on Mønsted.

  9. Jim,

    You crack me up. I wish I could be more like you. See, I would say how about 6,852 for Monsted and one under Picasso and that one being 'bottom of your birdcage liner.'

  10. I can confirm that here in Denmark, Mønsted is very little known. First time I heard about him was through American sources – I don't remember where, could have been on James Gurney's blog. He is also very poorly represented in the museums here. But my father once told me that his grandmother used to own a painting by Mønsted. Unfortunately, she sold it …

  11. Incrível como artista do nível de Monsted ainda não tenham uma publicação bem elaborada do seu conjunto de obras. Aqui no Brasil, um excelente paisagista, Edgar Walter, também carece de mais divulgação de sua valiosa obra.
    Parabéns pela matéria, obrigado pelas informações!

  12. Peder Monsteds paintings are very,very beautyfull, but they have not a deeper sense.His beautyfull river-landscapes are painted 10-40 years after Van Gogh, so no wonder ,that you will not find him in a museum.He was out of time,and followed the old danish landscape painters, Christian Zacho,Hans Friis and Janus la Cour, and improved their technic. But Monsted painted only what he saw, very good ,with perfect technics but without his personal soul.
    M. Horn.

  13. Thank god that someone paints what he sees.Instesd of the awful excuses for art that we see today.Monsted should go down as one of the greats.W.Hobson

  14. Rare son les peintres qui me donne envie de rentrer dans leurs tableaux les chemins de sous bois sont des endroits magique mes préférés.

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