GRUNDTVIG, Ernst

1920 - 1994

Born in the small Danish town of Herfoelge on 5 May 1920, youngest of three children and at the was aged three his family moved north to Copenhagen and it was here that he was later to embark on his artistic career. On leaving school he set up studio in Nyhavn at that time a squalid fishing dock. Perhaps it was here watching he boats arriving daily from North Atlantic adventures in the waters off Iceland and Greenland, that his interest in the sea began. Grundtvig was soon to find work as a stage designer for the nearby 'Det kongelige Teater' (Royal Theatre) and was admitted to the Danish art academy where he made friends with Per Luetken (1916-1998) and with Carlo Rosberg (b.1902) and Preben Siiger (1918-1990) who formed the art group Caravellen. Towards the end of the 1930's Grundtvig was called to do his military service and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. These were troubled times though and with the onslaught of world war, Denmark was occupied literally overnight on 9 April 1940. He found work in the Deutsche Oper (Opera house)in Berlin as a stage designer and towards the end of his stay in Berlin, Grundtvig was arrested by the SS on suspicion of spying but was released and in 1945 returned to Denmark. For the next ten years Grundtvig travelled around Scandinavia painting and exhibiting his work and drawing great inspiration from the sea. He spent long periods on the Danish island of Bornholm as well as on the Norwegian south and west coasts. He met Anne Wallin (born 1935) and in 1956 he moved to the Swedish West and they settled in the small fishing town of Grebbestad and they married at Havstensund on 21 July 1957. In 1965 Anne gave birth to their first son, Nicolai and followed six years later by a second son Andreas and the family moved to a merchant's house on the quay of the tiny hamlet Havstensund. Grundtvig had been commissioned to do a number of reliefs and sculpture for churches, schools and private organisations but it was contact with the Swedish shipping firm 'Tor Line' that would lead to his biggest work being commissioned to adorn the stern staircase with a relief of his work on the two sister-ships Tor Britannia and Tor Scandinavia (now Prince and princess of Scandinavia) which began in 1974. In 1977 it was the Southwest corner of Scotland that would lure the artist away from Sweden and in search of inspiration the family moved to the remote village of Crossmichael near Castle Douglas but the house was far too big for the family's needs and one cold winter was enough to lead to the break up of the family. Anne and Andreas moved to East Anglia to be near the Sweden-ferry harbour town of Felixstowe and a year later Grundtvig and his eldest son Nicolai moved to be near the family and set up home and studio in Snape Maltings. Here he had much easier access to Scandinavia and exhibited in Sweden almost annually as well as being commissioned on numerous occasions by Scandinavian Seaways, who had taken over Tor Line. Exhibitions at this time include The Danish Club in Knightsbridge in London, and at Snape. Shortly before Christmas 1993 Grundtvig was admitted to hospital in Ipswich having fought for some time against cancer but he died on 30 January 1994 at the age of 73. Ernst Grundtvig is represented in numerous museums and public buildings across Northern Europe as well as in private collections such as that of King Harald of Norway. In 1999 a sell-out exhibition of the artist's work was held at Shingle Street, Woodbridge where his ashes are scattered off the Suffolk shore.


























Works by This Painter