Danish painter. Although he was mentioned in the court account-books as early as 1743, his first known painting dates from 1750. From then until 1756 he was active as one of the most important portrait painters of the Danish Rococo. His colouristic style and impasto technique were strongly influenced by the Swedish painter Carl Gustaf Pilo. The double portrait of the Court Jeweller C. F. Fabritius and his Wife (1752; Copenhagen, Stat. Mus. Kst) and the full-length Frederik V (1756; priv. col., see A. Russell, ed.: Danske slotte og herregårde [Danish palaces and manor houses] (Copenhagen, 2/1963–8), iv, p. 385) are among his masterpieces. An important collection of portraits by Als from this period is housed in the Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg, Hillerød.
In 1755 Als was the first major gold medal winner at the newly founded Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi in Copenhagen, and the next year he began a six-year study trip to Italy and France. In Rome (1756–61) he met the theorist J. J. Winckelmann; and his experience working in Anton Raphael Mengs’s studio led to a fundamental alteration in his style, which was also influenced by Pompeo Batoni. Als adopted a classicizing mode in his portraits, marked by monumentality, gravity and deeper colours. Both the profile portrait of the sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt (1766; Copenhagen, Kon. Kstakad.) and the portrait of Sophie Hedvig Moltke (1766; priv. col., see Holck Colding, p.82) were clearly inspired by his studies in Rome. Appointed court painter in 1763, Als executed a number of studies and portraits of Queen Caroline Mathilde, as well as the coronation portrait of Christian VII (St Petersburg, Hermitage). In 1766 Als was appointed professor at the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi in Copenhagen.
- T. Holck Colding: ‘Kongen og kunsten’ [The king and art], Akademiet og guldalderen (Copenhagen, 1972), iii of Dansk kunsthistorie, pp. 78–85
- M. Saabye: ‘Augustus og Cleopatra: Dokumentation omkring et maleri af Anton Raphael Mengs’, Kstmus. Arsskr. (1976), pp. 12–38 [with Ger. summary]