Wilhelm Wils

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Wilhelm Wils
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Born(1880-08-05)August 5, 1880
Kolding, Denmark
DiedJuly 30, 1960(1960-07-30) (aged 79)

Wilhelm Wils was born on August 5, 1880 in Kolding, Denmark and passed away on July 30, 1960 in Copenhagen. A number of his paintings are held by the National Gallery of Denmark.[1] Wils was a prolific painter whose work spanned various themes and subjects throughout his career. Wils is also known for a famous art forgery case where his name was erased from a painting and replaced by the signature of Icelandic painter Jón Stefánsson (born a year after Wils, in 1881). [2][3]

Initially working as a photographer, Wils gravitated towards painting in his mid-twenties, enrolling in the free art schools. His education at Zahrtmann’s school was important. He also developed his skills under the tutelage of P.A. Schou during 1905-1906 and Johan Rode in 1908.[4]

Inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, Wils had an early fascination with portraying the various social strata of Copenhagen. This was evident in his works that captured the vibrancy of night cafés, theaters, and street scenes with expressive brushstrokes and a keen insight into the human character, a pursuit further influenced by Edvard Munch’s focus on the psychological aspects of humanity.[5]

Throughout the 1920s, Wils's imagery of variety shows and taverns reflected an expressionistic style, resonant with the works of Ludvig Karsten and other Nordic contemporaries. Later years saw him drawn to Dyrehavsbakken for inspiration, where his color palette softened but retained its expressive force. Wils's contributions from the early 20th century are considered pivotal in ushering in modernism in Danish art, and his works continue to be celebrated for their unique perspective and vibrant expressiveness.


  1. https://open.smk.dk/art?q=wilhelm%20wils&page=0
  2. Hansen, J. Á. (2009). Er íslensk myndlist áhugaverður fjárfestingakostur? (Doctoral dissertation).
  3. https://nkfisland.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/art-forgery-iic-nkf-2003-compressed.pdf
  4. Bramsen H., & Voss, K. 1975. Dansk kunsthistorie (Danish art history) after 1900. Paris: Notre Propre Siècle.
  5. https://www.obro-artgallery.com/biographies.htm#wils

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