Harald Moltke

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Harald Moltke (far left), with Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen, Knud Rasmussen and Alfred Bertelsen

Harald Viggo Moltke (1871–1960) [1] [2] was a Danish painter and author, who was educated on the Royal Danish Academy of Art 1889–1893. Among his activities Moltke participated as draughtsman in four Arctic expeditions.


From May to November 1898 he participated in a geological expedition headed by K. J. V. Steenstrup (1842-1906) to the Disko Bay region at the west coast of Greenland. From this expedition Moltke made paintings of geological structures, a.o., the coast line of Nugsuark Peninsula, and of the Inuit, a.o., "Greenland women in umiak".

During July 1899 to April 1900 Moltke joined an aurora expedition[3] to Akureyri in Iceland. The expedition was arranged and headed by the director, Adam F. W. Paulsen (1833-1907), of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). Further participants were Dan Barfod la Cour (1876-1942), director of DMI 1923-1942, and Ivar B. Jantzen (1875-1961). In Akureyri, Moltke made 19 paintings of auroras and 5 portrait sketches of the expedition members.

In the winter 1900-1901 Moltke participated in another DMI aurora expedition; this time to Utsjoki in northern Finland. This expedition was headed by Dan B. la Cour. Further participants were Carl Edvard Thune Middelboe (1875-1924) and Johannes K. Kofoed (1877-1939). Here, Moltke made, a.o., 6 paintings of auroras. The aurora paintings from the two aurora expedition belong to and reside now with the Danish Meteorological Institute.

During 1902-1904 Harald Moltke joined "The Literature Expedition", headed by Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen, with Knud Rasmussen, Jørgen Brønlund, and Alfred Bertelsen. The expedition was a dog sled journey along the unmapped north-west coast of Greenland from Upernavik to Cape York close to Thule. From this expedition his main works are a set of 30 portraits of Inuit, issued in 1903, and with Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen as first author the book (in Danish) Grønland (Greenland) (1906).

During the later years of his life, Moltke made numerous paintings, particularly portraits and landscapes, and published his memoirs (in Danish) Livsrejsen (The Life Travel) in 1936.


  1. ^ Stauning, P., (2011): "Harald Moltke - Nordlysets maler, Painter of the Aurora", ISBN 978-87-993384-3-6, http://forlagetepsilon.dk
  2. ^ Silvermann, S. (2012): Book Reviev "Harald Moltke-Painter of the Aurora, Hist. Geo Space Sci.,3,127-129, 2012, doi:10.5194/hgss-3-127-2012, http://www.hist-geo-space-sci.net/3/127/2012/
  3. ^ Stauning, P.,(2011): "Danish auroral science history", Hist. Geo Space Sci., 2, 1-28, 2011, doi:10.5194/hgss-2-1-2011, http://www.hist-geo-space-sci.net/2/1/2011/
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