His father was a well-to-do shipbuilder. At an early age, he began to receive painting lessons at the art school in Aarhus and, from 1875 to 1879, studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts with Niels Simonsen and Julius Exner. In 1882, he spent some time in Rome and Capri then, the following year, visited Paris, where he worked in the studios of William Adolphe Bouguereau.
In 1889, he went to Algeria. Three years later, he travelled to Greece, where he was a guest of King George I, who was Danish. While there, he also did portraits of the Royal Family. After that, he visited Egypt and Spain.
His travels produced numerous sketches that became paintings he presented at several international exhibitions. Most of his landscapes were, however, devoted to Scandinavia. He was especially popular in Germany, where he held several shows at the Glaspalast in Munich. During his later years, he spent a great deal of time in Switzerland and travelling throughout the Mediterranean. Most of his works are in private collections. In 1995, a major retrospective, called "Light of the North", was held in Frankfurt am Main.