Marie Krøyer

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Double self-portrait of Marie and her husband (1890)

Marie Triepcke Krøyer Alfvén (11 June 1867 – 25 May 1940), commonly known as Marie Krøyer, was a Danish painter. She was born Maria Martha Mathilde Triepcke in Frederiksberg, Denmark, to Wilhelm August Eduard Max and Minna Augusta Kindler Triepcke, who had immigrated to Denmark from Germany the previous year. Max Triepke worked as technical director for the J. H. Rubens Loomery.


Maria enjoyed a comfortable, middle-class life growing up in the Triepcke home, along with her two brothers Wilhelm and Valdemar. A childhood schoolfriend, Ida Hirschsprung, brought Maria in social contact with Heinrich and Pauline Hirschsprung, Ida's aunt and uncle. Heinrich Hirschsprung, a prominent businessman who ran a successful tobacco manufacturing business, and was a patron of the arts. His art collection forms the basis of the Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen. Hirschsprung had a special interest in and was a financial supporter of Peder Severin Krøyer, who would marry Maria in 1889.

Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer on the beach at Skagen (Peder Severin Krøyer, ca. 1893)

Maria showed a great interest in art, and wanted to pursue training as a painter. It was very difficult in those days for women to come into art training, but she was talented, willful, independently minded and had the support of her parents. With those traits, and both her social and artistic connections, she was able to come in the private studios of Carl Thomsen and Kristian Zahrtmann for study in Copenhagen. She was helped along the way by Bertha Wegmann, a leading portrait artist of the day, for whom she modelled at 16 years of age, and Andreas Peter Weis, an employee of the Danish Ministry of Culture. In Paris she studied side by side with Anna Ancher at Pierre Puvis de Chavannes atelier. Anna Ancher, a fellow Dane and resident of Skagen, would be a lifelong friend. She studied also at the ateliers of Gustave Courtois and Alfred Philippe Roll. She debuted at Charlottenborg in 1888, and helped found Den Frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition) in 1891.

Maria also became good friends with painters Harald Slott-Møller, and Agnes Rambusch (Agnes Slott-Møller), his future wife. Agnes would continue a lifetime of support and encouragement for Maria's artistic pursuits. Other friends with whom she maintained exhaustive correspondence include Georg Brandes, critic and scholar, whom she admired, and Sophus Schandorf, poet, who together with his wife treated Marie as their daughter throughout the years.

Shortly after coming to Paris alone in December 1888, a daring adventure for a respectable young woman of those times, Maria ran into Krøyer at a café frequented by Nordic artists. Her beauty suddenly overwhelmed Krøyer, even though he had known her for a number of years. She sat as model for his painting "A Duet" (1887), studied at a studio which he oversaw, visited his studio and had met him socially on various occasions at the Hirschsprung home. After a whirlwind romance the couple married on 23 July 1889 at the Triepke's home in Augsburg, Germany (The Triepkes had been forced to move back to Germany in 1888 on account of the father's loss of employment).

The transformation of the simple, young woman Maria into the elegant, sophisticated and often scandalous Marie, wife of one of Denmark's leading cultural figures had begun. The newlyweds traveled extensively in Germany, Italy, France and Denmark before settling in Skagen in 1891. They divided their time between homes in Skagen and Copenhagen, and continued to travel extensively throughout their marriage. Paris was a regular destination as Krøyer exhibited at the annual Salons. Although Marie's production of paintings was limited after marrying Krøyer, paintings and watercolors of hers can be seen at the Skagens Museum. Marie is also remembered for her portrayals in the many paintings in which Krøyer featured her.

Interior with a sewing girl (Marie Krøyer)

In addition to painting, and later as a replacement for it, she found creative outlet in designing the refined interiors of the several homes she and Krøyer created. She was inspired by the then fashionable Arts and Crafts movement. Her furniture designs would be used by Ulrik Plesner, a leading architect of the time, and original pieces are exhibited at the National Museum. Many of her friends in the rich, influential and fashionable circles would request her advice on the interior design of their homes.

Marie and Krøyer had one child, Vibeke, who was born January 1895. At the turn of the century Krøyer's health began deteriorating drastically, and he was frequently hospitalized for lengthy periods. His mental instability proved too much for their marriage, and Marie during a tour to Taormina, Sicily, in 1902 met Hugo Alfvén, the Swedish composer, the man who would become her future husband. They had a passionate affair. Although Hugo frequently spent time in Skagen along with Marie, Krøyer was reluctant to divorce her. He finally succumbed when Marie became pregnant with Hugo's child, and their divorce was finalized in 1905.

Marie and Hugo lived together several years before marrying, along with their daughter, Margita, at their home Alfvénsgaard in Tällberg, Sweden, which she designed completely: the building, interior, furnishings and interior decoration. They married in 1912. Marie designed also the interior for their subsequent home Linneanum at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, where Hugo was director of music. She produced watercolors and drawings during her second marriage, as well as interior decorations. Marie and Hugo divorced in 1936.

Marie died in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 May 1940.

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