0019 "Man müsse keine Statue Equestre machen": Abildgaard and Schadow in Copenhagen 1791

  • Patrick Kragelund (Author)
    Danmarks Kunstbibliotek (The Danish National Art Library), Copenhagen, Denmark

    Patrick Kragelund is director of the Danish National Art Library (e-mail pkr@kunstbib.dk). He is a ph.d. in classics (Copenhagen, 1982); was assistant director at the Danish Academy in Rome (1984-90), then worked at the University of Aarhus before becoming a librarian in 1998; his "Habilitation", Abildgaard - kunstneren blandt oprørerne (1999), uses the library of the artist as a gateway back into the enigmatic world of his imagery. His research focuses on history of collections, on Danish art of the 17th and 18th centuries and (returning to ph.d. issues) on Roman Historical Drama, from Antiquity to the Romantics (title of forthcoming monograph).

Identifiers (Article)


In connection with the project of erecting an equestrian statue for King Frederick the Great of Prussia, the Berlin sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow was in the autumn 1791 sent on a research tour to the three Baltic capitals, Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Copenhagen. Here he studied and discussed similar recent projects with fellow artists, and brought reports back to Berlin on the equestrian statues by Pierre Hubert L'Archevêque and Johan Tobias Sergel (Gustavus Adolphus in Stockholm), by Étienne Maurice Falconet (Peter the Great in St. Petersburg) and by Jacques François Joseph Saly (Frederick V in Copenhagen). Documents not previously published throw new light on the contacts Schadow during these travels established with the Danish painter Nicolai Abildgaard, a contact, it is here argued, that strengthened Schadow's commitment to use a historically accurate, more realistic and less idealised stylistic idiom when depicting great figures from the national past.


absolutism and art, French Revolution and art, equestrian statues, classical idiom, realistic idiom, Falconet, Peter the Great, Marcus Aurelius, history painting, sculpture, Benjamin West, Nicolai Abildgaard, Johann Gottfried Schadow, Frederik V, king of Denmark, Friedrich II von Preußen, Reiterstandbild