Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Villa at Marienborg, Denmark

Here's another old work of mine that needs a little explanation. This Italianate villa was actually in Denmark. It was a 19th century structure on an estate on the Danish island of Mon (slash through the "o"). The island is a popular vacation place for Danes but it has a long history as well. The person who owned this estate was a Count who was a friend of a bunch of artists who were friends of my family. In the spring of 1976, when I was traveling abroad on a fellowship grant in between college and graduate school, I visited this island and stayed with the people there for about a week. They were sort of like high-culture hippies, in the days when Denmark was very welcoming to social experimenters and artists. The Count also helped support them with his "old money." I remember a rollicking and very boozy dinner with the Count, his friends, and my artist friends which could have come out of a surrealistic movie.

The estate was called "Marienborg," not the Danish prime minister's residence but the Count's family place on the isle of Mon. It could have been a set for that surrealistic movie, with picturesque old buildings and beautiful grounds with the pond that you see here. Naturally, I brought out my paints and did a watercolor sketch of the main residence there, which had been abandoned at that point because it had no modern amenities like running water or indoor bathrooms. I only managed to do a part of the scene, though, leaving the rest only sketched in with watercolor-soluble pencils. The art remained unfinished for 10 years, until 1986 when I decided to give it to our artist friends, who were getting old and might not be there much longer. I finished the piece in watercolor from the remaining sketch and sent it off to them, somewhat to my regret as I really liked the painting.

Now, 25 years later, this scene is gone, along with the old house. It was too expensive to re-fit it as a residence (or hotel) so it was demolished. The Count and my artist friends are all gone, to Danish bohemian heaven, and I don't know what happened to the estate on Mon. But I know that someone, somewhere, is enjoying that idyllic place, whatever happened to it.

Marienborg villa portrait is watercolor on Fabriano paper, about 8" x 10", 1976-1986.

1 comment:

Tristan Alexander said...

Lovely picture, sad story!