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Heinrich Hirschsprung (7 February 1836 – 1908) was a Danish tobacco manufacturer, arts patron and art collector, founder of the Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen, a museum dedicated to Danish art from the 19th and early 20th century.
Family and business life
Heinrich Hirschsprung was born on 7 February 1836 in Copenhagen into a family of German-Jewish descent. His father, Abraham Marcus, had been born in Friedberg near Frankfurt am Main in 1783 but moved to Denmark where he opened a small tobacco business in Copenhagen's Hotel D'Angleterre in 1826. Two years later, in 1827, he married Petrea Hirschsprung née Hertz (1804–1891), and they had six children.
Heinrich and his brother Bernhard took over their father's shop in 1858 and under their leadership the business, now specializing in cigar making, grew rapidly. In 1866, they bought a piece of unused land at Gammelholm, an area which had been a naval site until 1859. There they built a modern factory for manufacting cigars. It was designed by the young architect Ove Petersen in a Historicist style which relied on Italian Renaissance architecture for inspiration.
Heinrich married Pauline Elisabeth Jacobson (9 July 1845 - 1912), afterwards known as Pauline Hirschsprung, on 26 June 1864. They had five children; Ellen, Ivar, Åge, Robert and Oskar. Pauline was the daughter of wholesaler Daniel Simon (1791–1858) and Friederiche Jacobson née Gerhardt (1811–1855).
Art collection and artist friends
Hirschsprung began his art collection in 1866, with the purchase of a painting by Julius Exner (1825–1910). His collection expanded over the years with additional purchases of paintings by contemporary Danish artists. It was a modern collection of examples from the Skagen Painters, the Fynboerne (Funen Artists) and Symbolists.
Hirschsprung was a great supporter, both personal and economic, of P.S. Krøyer who met him through Frants Henningsen, a mutual friend at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi). Hirschsprung admired Krøyer’s artistic talent and skills, and he purchased the first paintings from him in 1874 — four watercolors from Hornbæk. They continued a lifelong friendship. Hirschsprung helped finance Krøyer’s travels and foreign residence during the years 1877-1881, giving him the economic support needed to develop his artistic skills. Krøyer was a friend of the entire family. He carried on a personal correspondence with Pauline and made a number of family portraits of Heinrich, Pauline and their children.
In addition to P.S. Krøyer, their homes were gathering places for such other contemporary artists as authors Holger Drachmann (1846–1908), Herman Bang (1857–1912) and Henrik Pontoppidan (1857–1943) and painters Wilhelm Marstrand (1810–1873), Frederik Vermehren (1823–1910), Otto Bache (1839–1927), Kristian Zahrtmann (1843–1917), and Frants Henningsen (1850–1908).
The Hirschsprung Collection (Den Hirschsprungske Samling) was established by Pauline and the museum opened in 1911 with 45 paintings, 13 pastels, 205 drawings, 14 watercolors, 12 busts, 55 sketchbooks as well as P.S. Krøyer’s letters and documents. The collection has grown since then, and the museum continues to this day in a beautiful park setting near central Copenhagen, around the corner from the National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst).