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Laurits Andersen Ring | Style and motifs

Danish artist Laurits Andersen Ring (1854-1933) was one of the finest Danish painters of his generation, a golden generation that established Danish painting in the eyes of the world, numbering amongst his contemporaries his friend Harmmershoi (1864-1916), Holsoe (1863-1935), Ilsted (1861-1933) and Monsted (1859-1941).

A feature often seen in Ring's art is to place one or more objects at the edge of picture, which can be seen in e.g. Runesten ved Roskilde Landevej, Når taget ventes. Jernbaneoverkørsel ved Roskilde Landevej, Summerday by Roskilde Fjord and Lundbyes bænk ved Arresø.
Ring also often places the horizontal line high, as seen in Lundbyes bænk ved Arresø, Krager på pløjemarken, På kirkegården i Fløng, Skærsommer. Tre børn i en mark med kornblomster and in his portrayal of rural laborers.

Ring drew on the Danish tradition of "almue" (folk) art, such as the work of J. th. Lundbye, but he also incorporated influences from more modernist painters such Paul Gauguin, Jean François Raffaëlli and Jean-François Millet.
Early scholarship discussed whether Ring was best to be considered a realist or a symbolist painter, but later scholars have accepted that the two aspects of his work are equally important and complement each other.
The painting of Ring's wife, Sigrid Kähler, is surrounded by subtle symbols indicating his love for her, such as the myrtle branches above her head, a symbol of Aphrodite according to the Ancient Greeks, and used in Denmark to adorn the bride at weddings.
As a painter, Ring never distanced himself from his humble origin, but rather made it his dominant theme, depicting the reality of rural life.
This is visible for example in his painting Gleaners (Axsamlere 1887) showing how the rural poor would pick up the grain left behind by the increasingly industrial methods of harvesting, a motif first made famous by Millet.

Most of his paintings depict the village life and landscapes of southern Zealand from Præstø to Næstved.
In his landscape painting, he was also inspired by psychological symbolism, infusing the landscapes with an otherworldly mystique and "strange mixtures of mood". This style has been described as "anti-naturalism".
Inspired by authors such as J.P. Jacobsen and the ideas of the Modern Breakthrough, Ring became an atheist, and his painting began to explore motifs and symbolism that contrasted forces of life and death. Even in his depictions of rural laborers Ring always played on the deeper symbolic and abstract meanings, so that his work The Harvester (I Høst 1884) becomes a depiction not just of a working man, nor of his brother who was the model, but of the cycle of life as symbolized by the scythe cutting the ripe corn.
Ring's consistent engagement with the unpleasant realities of life caused one critic to dub him "the Apostle of the Hideous".
Others have interpreted the drive towards unsentimental realism as an expression of Ring's atheist life stance. Ring himself quipped on his 40th birthday that "Life is short - Art is long". | Source: © Wikipedia