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Kunstgalerij Albricht BV

An evening at the Circus in Copenhagen - I Cirkus Varieté

Paul Gustav Fischer (Copenhagen 1860-1934 Gentofte)

Oil on canvas
80.6 x 105.4 cm (31.7 x 41.5 in.)
Signed lower left 'Paul Fischer Circus Varieté 1891'
Copenhagen, 1891

Paul Fischer began his career guided by his father who had started off as a painter but succeeded in the family business of manufacturing paints and lacquers. Fischer's formal art education in his mid-teens was short: he only followed two years at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. His reputation grew rapidly after the publication of some of his drawings on city life in a Danish magazine and even more as he came into contact with young Danish naturalists. It was not long before Fischer gained fame as a painter of cities, not just Copenhagen, but scenes from Scandinavia, Italy and Germany, reaching his zenith between 1890 and 1910. He benefited from contemporaries in Norway and Sweden, especially Carl Larsson, and he developed an interest in designing posters inspired by Théophile Steinlen and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

This large painting of the interior of a theatre-circus built at the time for traveling artists, gives us a good impression of the liveliness of society in Copenhagen in the 1890s. On stage a young woman, Mrs. Pacra, is singing the “Marseillaise” waiving the French flag. Mrs Pacra was a well-known figure in Paris in the cabaret-theatre scene. It is possible that Paul Fischer met her on his first trip to France and invited her to come and perform. The people standing and sitting in the front of the picture are friends and family members of Fischer. His wife is the figure , behind the waiter in the middle, walking towards us in a coat trimmed with white fur. The lamps spread a warm light over the evening; the waiters busy with serving drinks and cocktails. Paul Fischer’s love for detail and atmosphere is perfectly reflected in this work.

Private collection Danmark; Sale Sotheby's London, 1984; Private collection, UK

S. Lindvald, Paul Fischer - Kobenhavnernes maler, Bogans Forlag 1984, p. 17 ill.