Nicolai Abildgaard (1743-1809), Christian I Raising the Province of Holstein to the State of a Duchy
During 1778-91 Abildgaard created ten large paintings for the Great Hall at Christiansborg Palace.
He had hoped to be painting dramatic scenes from ancient Danish legends. But the king’s counsellors wanted depictions of the history of the current royal family, the Oldenburgs, and the paintings were to reflect the position of the reigning king.
Thus, the kings were to be presented as fair legislators, administrators, and builders. For example, the painting of Christian I was to be a symbolic image accentuating the close ties between Denmark and the Duchy of Holstein.
Only one scene gave Abildgaard the opportunity to paint a dramatic episode: King Christian IV on the ship The Trinity (no. 3, r). He never got to paint scenes from legend. In the palace fire of 1794 only three paintings were saved