Hugo Larsen in the Danish West Indies 1904-07

Special Exhibition at Oeregaard Museum in Copenhagen

Øregaard Museum in Copenhagen displayed from 20 January until 14 May 2006 an unusual exhibition with the painter Hugo Larsen's original paintings and drawings from the Danish West Indies (now US Virgin Islands). The exhibition was continued during summer 2006 by Danish Maritime Museum in Elsinore.

The exhibition poster

Based on my research and inquiries by the museum, Øregaard managed to display close to 70 paintings and drawings. This makes the exhibition the most comprehensive presentation ever of Hugo Larsen's original works from the Danish West Indies. Most of the exhibited works were from private collections and many had never been presented to the public before. Among others, a selection of the works in Hugo Larsen's Virtual Gallery were exhibited.

Hugo Larsen made his breakthrough in 1901 with a series of empathetic paintings from a colony of Danish prisoners working on cultivating the moors of Jutland. A few years later, he made his big trip to the Danish West Indies where he stayed for 3½ years, watching and portraying landscapes and everyday life in the exotic colony. Particularly his paintings and drawings of the local population's life and doings are remarkable, both in an artistic and in a cultural historic sense. The paintings and drawings from the West Indies mark the climax of Hugo Larsen's artistic career.

Hugo Larsen: From a Rum Shop, St. Croix 1905
Owner: Knuthenborg. Photo: Finn Brasen.

In Hugo Larsen's time, the interest in the Danish West Indies was very limited in mainland Denmark. His exotic paintings and drawings were more or less ignored and few were procured by public collections. Thus, most of his works have been unknown for many decades and were exhibited at Øregaard Museum for the first time.

Øregaard Museum is museum for the municipality of Gentofte north of Copenhagen. During the past few years Øregaard Museum has made itself known through a series of remarkable and successful exhibitions with Danish artists like Paul Fischer, Oluf Høst and Marie Krøyer. The museum also has a connection with the Danish West Indies as its main building was constructed in 1806 for the merchant Johannes Søbøtker who made his fortune out of trade and plantations on the Danish West Indian islands. Thus, the exhibition marked both the 200th anniversary of the museum's building and the 100 years that had passed since Hugo Larsen's first separate exhibition which he arranged himself in Christiansted, St. Croix in 1906.

See Øregaard Museum's homepage in Danish (

A comprehensive, illustrated booklet and catalogue in English has been published. Read more and buy now.


See also:

St. John Tradewinds featured an article based on Øregaard Museum's book Monday 6 Mar 2006:

Øregaard Museum's homepage (in Danish) (
A biography of Hugo Larsen
Hugo Larsen's Virtual Gallery