Karen Blixen created her pictures not only in words but also in drawings and paintings. Her handwriting is, in and of itself, a beautifully rendered movement across the page, as if the writing´s very form has a story of its own. As a young girl she often mixed her writing excercises with her sketches, the one form of expression inextricably tied to the other.

artworks of Isak Dinesen, african portraits by Isak Dinesen, art by Karen Blixen


As an author Karen Blixen was much indebted to the art of painting: ”I would have always had difficulty seeing how a landscape really looked if I had not learned the key to doing so from the great painters.”


It all began in the sheer joy of reading and came to fruition when, as a seventeen year old, she entered the art school run by misses Sode and Meldahl in Copenhagen. Learning the fine art of perspective drawing was a revelation for her. The discipline and rules of law involved in constructive drawing served as the basis for her work as an author.

Blixen received her first real training in drawing from Charlotte Sode and Julie Meldahl in their art school on Bredgade, in 1902-03, where she prepared for further studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and in 1910, twenty-five-year-old Karen Dinesen attended an art school in Paris.


Karen Blixen´s letters from Africa speak only occasionally about artistic activities. The result, however, consist of some brilliant portraits of the native helpers on her farm, evidence of a considerable talent and a special insight into her models´ personalities.

After the farm in Africa was sold in 1931, she returned home to Denmark. From then on the pictures appeared not on paper or canvas but in words. One form seemed to replace the other. At the same time, all her painterly insights were integrated into the written picture.