Marie Sophie Frederikke
Marie Sophie Frederikke became Queen of Denmark in 1808. She was the daughter of Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel and married Frederik (VI) in 1790.
The marriage between Marie and her cousin Crown Prince Frederik took place despite objections from the government and the advisors of the Royal House. The Queen led a quiet life; she had a weak constitution after giving birth eight times, although only two daughters survived. She was Regent in 1814-1815 while Frederik VI participated in the Congress of Vienna, where Europe’s new borders were decided after the Napoleonic Wars.
The Royal couple and the two Princesses Caroline and Vilhelmine could often be seen sailing on the canals in Frederiksberg Garden, which increased the already considerable popularity of the Royal family. In contrast to earlier Danish Royal couples, they became symbols of urban bourgois family life, even though it was well known that the King had a relationship with Frederikke Dannemand.
Crown Princess Marie and Princess Caroline in Frederiksberg Gardens
Jens Juel painted the Crown Princess with her daughter around 1800. At that time he had been the court portrait painter for 20 years and had painted most of the members of the Royal Family several times. Crown Princess Marie had been portrayed in a more than two metre high painting eight years earlier, while Juel had painted her husband, the later Frederik VI, shortly before his confirmation in 1783. In Juel’s paintings grace is united with realistic depictions. The representation of the country’s Crown Princess walking on her flat feet in a garden without status symbols would have been unthinkable a few decades earlier. With the French Revolution came a liberation of the arts, which Juel had witnessed during his many years travelling abroad, and he was therefore able to live up to the, for the time, modern demands and expectations of art, which were also emerging in Denmark. Interest in the private sphere, family bonds, and the freer expression granted to children were tendencies that were popular at the time and are depicted in the painting. C Zeuthen depicted Frederik VI’s study and bedchamber in a watercolour in 1840 following the king’s death. In the watercolour Juel’s painting can be seen hanging on the wall behind the king’s bed. His white writing desk can be seen on the left of the picture. Today it is part of the Royal Danish Collection and can be seen in room 16 at Rosenborg. The painting was purchased by Rosenborg in 2015 with support from Augustinus Fonden, Ny Carlsbergfondet, and the Danish Ministry of Culture.