Sun Setting, Denmark

Media - 1967.59.720 - SAAM-1967.59.720_1-000001 - 81363
Copied William H. Johnson, Sun Setting, Denmark, ca. 1930, oil on burlap, 20 3425 38 in. (52.764.5 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.720

Artwork Details

Sun Setting, Denmark
ca. 1930
20 3425 38 in. (52.764.5 cm.)
lower right in burgundy oil: W.H.Johnson
Credit Line
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Mediums Description
oil on burlap
  • Landscape
  • Waterscape — boat
  • Waterscape — harbor
  • Occupation — industry — fishing
  • Landscape — time — sunset
  • Landscape — Denmark — Kerteminde
Object Number

Artwork Description

The swirling colors and blocky brushstrokes of Sun Setting recall the work of Vincent van Gogh, one of William H. Johnson’s favorite painters. The sun radiates dashes of color that animate the landscape in every direction. Johnson often viewed the scenes he wanted to paint through a concave “fish lens” that distorted the terrain into unnatural shapes and wobbly horizons (Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991). He used this optical effect as a starting point, and painted the countryside so that the land expressed the resilience and strength of Denmark’s people.

Luce Object Quote

“Have just done a good picture . . . the old port in Kerteminde . . . with the sun setting along the waters over the horizon with a fishing boat in the water to balance the old port on the other side of the canvas . . . I’m quite pleased with it.” Letter from the artist, 1930, in Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991