In connection with the anniversary exhibition “Garden by the Sea”, you now can experience something unique: Fritz Syberg’s studio. It is the only building still standing from Willow Farm (Pilegården), which burned down in 1955.
In 1901, Fritz Syberg (1862-1939) visited Johannes Larsen (1867-1961) in Kerteminde. Syberg was deeply moved by the landscape in northeast Funen and wrote on Dec. 13, 1901 to his wife, Anna Syberg, about an old farm in Over Kærby in Drigstrup Parish just outside Kerteminde: “...a large, beautifully situated house with a big apple orchard, for 3000 kr. It’s a hell of a bargain!” Anna and Fritz Syberg bought Willow Farm on Sept.17, 1902 for 2900 kr.
The couple moved there in the autumn of 1902 with three children, and a fourth on its way.
In the midst of the Funen landscape and with the lush garden around him, Syberg lived and worked in what his good friends Johannes V. Jensen and Otto Gelsted called “Sybergland”. In the words of Otto Gelsted: “The sparrows out in the old garden keep right on chirping, the sound blending with the clip-clopping of Syberg’s clogs. Under the centuries-old fruit trees, there is the white and green of Spring Snowflakes (leucojum vernum). Some of the old trees couldn’t stand up to the winter storms and lie fallen on the grass. Looking out over the fields, the poplar hedgerow stretches away into the misty air. We are in Sybergland.”
A short life
Anna Syberg died in 1914, only 44 years old. Fritz was left alone with seven children; the youngest, Rabbe, was only 9 months old. The following year, he married Anna’s sister, Marie. Fritz Syberg remained at Willow Farm until his death in 1939, but as early as 1920, his eldest son, Hans, who was a sculptor, received the deed to the farm.
A tragic fire
In 1938, ownership of the farm was transferred to the next-eldest son, Franz, usually called Trylle. Franz was a composer and lived at Willow Farm with his wife, Gudrun, and their two children until 1955. That was the year Willow Farm burned to the ground, and during the fire, Franz died tragically. Gudrun had a new house built on the foundation, and today it belongs to the housing association called Grønløkken.
Visit Syberg’s studio
Only Syberg’s studio still stands intact, as the most visible sign that an artist family once lived here. Now it will be open to the public, so you can see it.
Syberg’s studio is open on Saturdays and Sundays in June, July and August from 1:00 - 4:00 PM. The address is Sybergs Have 11, 5300 Kerteminde.