At the end of the 1700s Nicolai Abildgaard wins the Gold Medal in the competition of the Royal Danish Academy of Art. The prize is a study trip to Rome. Abildgaard stays in the city for five years, where he spends hours at a time before works by the great masters of antiquity and the Renaissance. He also becomes part of an international circle of artists that explores and challenges existing art ideals.
Contorted, disharmonious bodies
The bodies in the Rome paintings demonstrate how Abildgaard gravitates towards the transgressive, that which can scarcely be contained within the framework of the socially acceptable. The disharmonious and unclassical bodies twist and distort. Fragmentation, exaggeration and drama are just some of the words that would apply to his works from Rome.