Exhibitions
Nicolau Abildgaard, Frederik II builds Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, 1781-82. Oil on canvas 309 x 197 cm.

Nicolau Abildgaard, Frederik II builds Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, 1781-82. Oil on canvas 309 x 197 cm.

Frederik II builds Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, 1781-82

The third painting
Having supplied the two first paintings for the Great Hall at Christiansborg Palace, Abildgaard could move on from one of the end walls of the hall to insert the first painting on the long wall in 1782. The painting is the last of the three Abildgaard painting salvaged from the fire at Christiansborg, the rest of the series is known to us only from the preliminary studies.

The motif
With this scene of Frederik II building Kronborg Palace, the artist has abandoned allegory and is depicting a specific event. As Erik Fischer has pointed out, this transition is not without its attendant problems. The positioning and composition are somewhat stiff compared to the previous two works. The king stares ahead of himself with empty eyes, oblivious of the construction work, and prior to his visit to the building site he made the rather curious decision of donning a suit of armour and an ermine robe.

Behind him are the most illustrious men of the realm, only two of whom can be identified with absolute certainty: the state councillor Christoffer Valkendorf in fornt and Tycho Brahe as the second from the left. In the foreground a pair of cannon barrels and cannonballs is arranged on the ground, and this is also where we find the king’s dog, Wildpret.

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Updated: 7.jul.2014
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