Nicolai Abildgaard

The painter and architect Nicolai Abildgaard is well-known for many renowned artworks, the most famous of which is The Wounded Philoctetes, painted in Rome. He was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts aged 21 in 1764. He spent the years 1772-7 in Rome where he saw the great paintings from the Renaissance and the heritage from antiquity.

He then travelled back to Denmark and became Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. Twice, in 1789-91 and 1801-09, he was also the Academy’s director.

Besides his post as professor, Abildgaard was made official historical painter of the Court. His first and biggest assignment was to decorate the great hall at the newly built Christiansborg Castle. Sadly, the palace and most of Abildgaard’s paintings were destroyed by fire in 1794.

The Royal family became homeless after the fire, so new lodgings for the large family had to be found. Christian VII’s half brother, Prince Frederik, moved into Levetzau’s Palace (later known as Christian VIII’s Palace). Abildgaard was in charge of the furnishing and decorating the Palace.