The Gothic Library
The Gothic Library was furnished for Dowager Queen Caroline Amalie in 1852, a few years after Christian VIII’s death. The architect was Christian V. Nielsen, whilst carpenter P.I. Wolff and woodcarver H.V. Brinkopff made the furniture. The library is considered to be the only fully conceived neo-Gothic room in Denmark, where the style never caught on as it did in neighbouring countries.
The well-read Dowager Queen received many of the 19th century’s prominent cultural personalities here, and several of them were honoured with a bust in the library. There is no bust of Hans Christian Andersen, however, who visited the Dowager Queen often and entertained her with readings and paper clippings. There are around 1600 books in the library, mainly 19th century literature.
Dowager Queen Caroline Amalie left the library to the state with the proviso that it was not to be divided up, and that the books and interior should remain together.
The Royal Representation Rooms
Christian VIII’s Palace has been a royal residence during two separate periods. The first period was during the reign of Christian VIII, from 1839 to 1848; Prince Christian Frederik succeeded his cousin King Frederik VI, who had two daughters but no sons. Christian Vlll was the son of Prince Frederik, the Heir Presumptive, (son of King Frederik V and Queen Juliane Marie), and of Princess Sofie Frederikke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Christian VIII had lived in the palace at Amalienborg since he was eight years old and moved there, with his parents and the rest of his family, after the great fire at Christiansborg in 1794. At the request of the Heir Presumptive it was the architect and artist Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard (1743-1809) who was commissioned to convert what had previously been the Levetzau Mansion into a residence for the royal family. Some 75 of the artist’s water-colour sketches for the decoration of the palace are preserved in the Collection of Prints and Drawings in Statens Museum for Kunst. On the basis of these sketches some of the interiors were partly re-created during a major renovation of the palace in the late 1980s. Abildgaard’s interior was an expression of the latest tastes at the time. As a reaction against the asymmetrical and convoluted lines of rococo, it was antique and classical ideals of pillars, pilasters, straight lines and total symmetry which now became dominant. The resulting décor was quite different from the original rococo style of the building, but was ordered by the hand of a forward-looking artist who is worthy of posterity’s admiration. The crowning achievement was the Gala Room. A splendid architectural showpiece of international standing – worth a journey to see. The bold choice of colours, which reflected the taste of the time in Europe’s trend-setting circles, is typical of Abildgaard’s work. The Heir Preseumptive died in 1805, and then Prince Christian Frederik (Christian VIII) took over the palace, where he lived, apart from a few short periods spent abroad, until he died. His only child Prince Frederik (VII), son of the Prince’s first marriage, to his cousin Charlotte Frederikke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was born in the south part of the Bel Etage, facing the street called Frederiksgade. It was in that wing that in 1836 the Prince commissioned the interior decorators G.C. Hilker, H. Eddelien and C. Købke to provide a Pompeian-inspired bedroom for his second wife, Princess Caroline Amalie of Augustenborg. In 1852, after the death of King Christian VIII, Queen Caroline Amalie had a library installed in neo-gothic style. This style never became really fashionable in Denmark, but was very popular in Russia, Germany and England, and was often used for library interiors. The architect for the room was Christian V. Nielsen, a pupil of G. F. Hetsch, while cabinet-maker P.I. Wolff and wood-sculptor H.V. Brinkopff made the furnishings. The library was a gift from the state to the Dowager Queen to commemorate the childless royal couple.
These fig leaves were made in order to make the male figures in The Golden Tableau more respectable. They were presumably made shortly after the bronze figures were delivered in the mid-1820s, as other statues by Thorvaldsen were also given fig leaves around this time. According to the accompanying instructions the fig leaves should be attached to figures with sewing thread.
Jason with the Golden Fleece
The Golden Tableau comprises eleven miniatures of classical statues, of which ten are by Bertel Thorvaldsen, and the eleventh by his pupil, Pietro Tenerani. Jason with the Golden Fleece from 1803 was Thorvaldsen’s breakthrough work, which made it possible for him to establish himself as an artist in Rome after his studies. Like the other bronze copies, it was modelled by Pietro Galli at the beginning of the 1820s and cast in bronze by Wilhelm Hopfgarten. The figure expresses heroism and masculine strength, which is a little curious for a statue of Jason. In ancient mythology Jason was the son of a king who had been ousted, and in order to regain his father’s throne he had to embark on a perilous journey to capture a golden ram’s fleece, which he succeeded in doing with the help of Medea, the daughter of a king who was a sorceress. But because he was dependent upon the help of a woman Jason wasn’t seen as a particularly heroic figure, which he has clearly become in Thorvaldsen’s interpretation.