Frederik VI and family

Frederik VI and Queen Marie with Princesses Caroline and Vilhelmine. Painted by C.W. Eckersberg, 1821. The decorations in the portrayed room along with the military attire worn by Frederik VI is a testimony of the political alliance with Napoleon and France, an alliance that ended costly not only for France but Denmark as well, since all of Norway was lost to Sweden and the entire danish fleet was lost to Britain. Despite its militaristic tone, one cannot escape the strong civil and bourgeois symbols of an ordinary, yet idealized, family life, portrayed in other words as a man of, and a family of, the people.

Frederik VI and Marie had a total of 8 children, but the portrayed princesses were the only ones to make it to adulthood, thereby breaking the direct male succesive heritage.


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.