Elfelt stands with a large camera and cloth over his head.

Photo: Peter Elfelt

Peter Elfelt

Delve into the Royal Danish Library's digitised collection of Elfelt's thousands of photographs, ranging from the development of the welfare society in Denmark to man's best furry friend.

Peter Elfelt was one of Copenhagen's great and famous photographers in 1900. He opened a studio on Købmagergade in 1890 and quickly became successful with his portrait photographs. Carte de visite photographs, consisting of small photographs pasted on cardboard sheets with the photographer's name, had become a craze across the country, and virtually everyone went to the photographer to get a portrait of themselves. Up to 20,000 people were photographed by Elfelt. In 1901 he became Royal Court Photographer, and in 1905 he moved his studio to the prominent address Østergade 24.

Arms stretched

Photograph of two men in striped suits riding a tandem bicycle.
In the year 1900, sport was something different than it is today. Take a look at the sports in Elfelt's photographs, where you can find naked men in acrobatic positions and women in "gym outfits".

Man's best friend

Portrait photograph of a man and woman in nice clothes with 2 dogs
If you stepped into Elfelt's studio, you would not be surprised if you bumped into a furry thing on four legs. Man's best friend, the dog, also had to have its portrait taken.

Elfelt did not just become a well-known portrait photographer. He also came out of the studio and photographed all over the city. He took thousands of photographs of important events and places, of royalty, financiers as well as of workers, artisans and also some of the very poorest. He went into hairdressers, hat shops, merchants, workshops and factories. He also photographed buildings and shop fronts and got in amidst the pedestrians and cyclists. A sensational invention, the car, is also placed in front of the photographer's eye.

Today, Elfelt remains one of Copenhagen's most productive and enterprising photographers who photographed a world undergoing rapid change. A world where industrialisation and urbanisation left their clear traces. In Elfelt's photographs, we get a sense of the world that came into being more than a hundred years ago.