Image for Icelanders celebrate the bicentenary of Jorgen Jorgenson’s rule

Professor Anna Agnarsdóttir,

The conference was a big success - about 120 - so people were sitting on the steps of the auditorium. The talks were very interesting.

A student of mine, Óli Már Hrólfsson, had researched how contemporary Icelanders had written about JJ. On the whole, because the Danes said that the Icelanders had been ridiculously stupid in allowing a Danish
adventurer and traitor to govern them for 9 weeks, the feeling in Iceland was one of shame. And all writings are negative.

This conference was trying to change that and I gave a paper on the democratic hero JJ and the panel of experts agreed that the current picture of JJ in Iceland is in general a positive one, that he was a true
protector trying to bring happiness to the Icelanders in the spirit of the Enlightenment to a people oppressed by the Danes.

Nowadays, however, we do not feel that the oppression of the Danes was that great.

Sarah gave an excellent paper entitled: “We Jorgen Jorgensen”: the many selves and countries of Iceland’s Dog-Day Revolutionary with lots of interesting pictures from Tasmania.

Jörn Dyrholm of course aroused great interest when he put forth his convincing arguments that the famous portrait is NOT JJ - and not by Eckersberg.

The panel of experts included Gunnar Karlksson professor emeritus, Petur Gunnarsson, a well-known author interested in the subject, Gudbrandur Benediktssson a historian and one of my students Fanney
kristjánsdóttir. The Minister of Education and Culture Katrín Jakobsdóttir opened the conference.

At the end a committee was appointed to try to get a statue erected. But now of course we have no idea how he looked!

I showed them your version of the sculpture, Kim, which went down very well with the audience.

There was a lively discussion which could have gone on forever.

Well, that’s the news from Iceland

Check and look at the article on the left under the picture entitled Er þetta ekki Jörgen Jörgensen.

The claim from Denmark that the Eckersberg portrait is not an   Eckersberg and is not Jorgen Jorgenson

Jorn Dyrholm - Denmark
Lesley Albertson - Australia

We say the painting is by Hans Hansen and not Eckersberg. We obtained   permission to take the painting to the Statens Museum for Kunst ( the State’s museum for art ) and we had an agreement with the director, 
Kasper Monrad, who has written about Eckersberg and is an expert on his paintings. They have lists of all the paintings which are believed to be by Eckersberg and Monrad did not have this work on the list and he told us that he believed that it is not painted by Eckersberg, but the work of another painter named Hans Hansen, who was the father of one of Eckersberg’s students, Constantin Hansen,  who is also one of our great painters.

We then pursued the question of who the subject in this painting could be. First, we found out why it is believed to be Jorgenson and we found that this claim is based on guess-work. The museum which currently has the painting in their collection bought it in 1920, but have no record of who the former owner was, who claimed it was a portrait of Jorgenson’s father, as well as being painted by Eckersberg. At the time two different art historians examined the work and they both decided that it could have been painted by Eckersberg. The museum bought it, but everyone who viewed the work could see it was not Jorgenson’s father. The clothes are from the early years of the 1800s, when the father would have been too old to be the subject, so a museum worker suggested that the painting may be of the Royal clockmaker’s son, the Danish adventurer better known as Jorgen Jorgenson and that is the only evidence that the claim is based on.

We have searched through family histories and wills to see if the painting had ever been mentioned. When Jorgenson’s mother died there were no paintings in her home and we could find no proof that any other member of the family had possessed it. We also wondered who paid for it, as Jorgenson had no money and perhaps Jorgenson’s father had commissioned the work. We began to rule this out when we could
see that the subject in the painting was not wearing a uniform. We also wondered if the face in the portrait could be that of someone who had sailed the World’s oceans for over a decade, as the features look too young. Then the records say that Jorgenson had brown hair and when you examine the original painting, the hair is more red than brown. Also, Jorgenson is listed as having hazel-brown eyes and the person in the painting absolutely does not.

We now claim that the painting is the work of Hans Hansen and is not by Eckersberg and that no one had or has any idea about who the subject in the painting is and in our view, it is definitely not Jorgen Jorgenson.

Note: The relevance of whether Jorgenson was in uniform or not relates to his father having helped to finance the Admiral Juul as a privateer and if Jorgenson sat for the portrait before sailing as the captain, it would be expected that he would have been painted in his new uniform.

Kim Peart