A little more than a century ago, Danish businessman Wilhelm Hansen made his fortune in insurance and spent it on art.
In 1892, a year after he and his wife, Henny, were married, they bought their first painting, a small oil study of a cow. By 1918, the couple had collected 140 paintings by 19th century Danish artists and had begun amassing French paintings also from the previous century. Thanks to a burst of buying in Paris between 1916 and 1920, into their hands came works by Manet and Monet, Matisse and Cézanne, Degas, Renoir and Gauguin.
Far from mere hoarders, the Hansens were determined to share with the public their acquisitions, which lined the walls of Ordrupgaard, their country mansion in a suburb of Copenhagen. In 1918, the Hansens began opening Ordrupgaard to the public one day each week.
“I dream almost each night of Ordrupgaard. … It is probably not out