Magical Light and Shifting Sands: Skagen and Its Artists

At the far northern tip of Denmark is a narrow finger of land jutting into the waters of Kattegat and Skagerrak, the two great straits that join the Baltic and North Seas. This is the Skagen Peninsula, a land carved by wind and waves, whose constantly shifting sand dunes have shaped both the landscape and the human life here – so much so that the town’s 14th-century church had to be abandoned in 1795 after it became increasingly difficult for the congregation to dig through the sand to attend services.

Skagen with the Sand-Covered Church in the foreground. Photo by Jan Winther / VisitDenmark.

Rugged and wild, Skagen has long attracted painters with its stark beauty, hardy local fishing culture, and striking, everchanging light. Painters first began coming to Skagen in the 1870s, and an artists’ colony soon emerged that lasted until the early decades of the 20th century. Painters such as Anna and Michael Ancher, Marie and P.S. Krøyer, Laurits Tuxen, Christian Krohg, Oscar Björck, and others from Denmark and the neighboring Scandinavian countries returned again and again to Skagen and formed a close-knit artistic community over the years.

Many of the scenes they captured on canvas can be seen at Skagens Museum, which houses more than 1,800 works by the Skagen painters.

The Skagen Museum. Photo by Cees van Roeden / VisitDenmark.
Skagens Museum
Brøndumsvej 4
9990 Skagen