A man, presumably Skagen’s beach warden, stands on the shore and gazes out the sea, absorbed in thought.His dark silhouette stands out powerfully against an atmosphere entirely permeated with blue light.It is the “blue hour”: the period of twilight which renders all contrasts of colour gentler.The artist brings the colours – blue, red and light shades of brown – together, thus suggesting the idea of a completely infinite pictorial space.The beach itself also appears immersed in blue light:note the thin brushstrokes applied to the light-brown sand.The nuanced treatment of colour conveys the ambience of the “blue hour”, which is difficult to describe in words, but pervades every detail of the landscape and seems to bring time to a standstill.
This picture was created just two years before the death of Peder Severin Krøyer, one of late 19th-century Danish painting’s most important artists. The Danes abbreviate “their” artist’s name to P.S. Krøyer.
The talented boy began his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen at the age of just 14.He drew the attention of tobacco manufacturer and art patron Heinrich Hirschsprung, who provided Krøyer with support as he travelled to study and work in countries including Italy and Spain – where he was fascinated by the work of Baroque painter Diego Velázquez – as well as France.There he was greatly influenced by the impasto technique and impulsive brushstroke of his teacher Léon Bonnart.In 1882 he met the Skagen painters Anna and Michael Ancher as well as Viggo Johansen.He could not resist their enthusiastic descriptions!Krøyer travelled to Skagen and was fascinated by the little fishing village at the tip of Denmark, where the North and Baltic Seas meet.Already a celebrated painter himself, he made the artists’ colony of the Skagen painters even more famous.After marrying Marie Krøyer, he permanently movedto Skagen in 1891.