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"Man müsse keine Statue Equestre machen": Abildgaard and Schadow in Copenhagen 1791

Author(s): Kragelund, Patrick

Journal: RIHA Journal
ISSN 2190-3328

Start page: 0019;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: absolutism and art | French Revolution and art | equestrian statues | classical idiom | realistic idiom | Falconet | Peter the Great | Marcus Aurelius | history painting | sculpture | Benjamin West | Nicolai Abildgaard | Johann Gottfried Schadow | Frederik V | king of Denmark

In connection with the project of erecting an equestrian statue for King Frederick the Great of Prussia, the Berlin sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow was in the autumn 1791 sent on a research tour to the three Baltic capitals, Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Copenhagen. Here he studied and discussed similar recent projects with fellow artists, and brought reports back to Berlin on the equestrian statues by Pierre Hubert L'Archevêque and Johan Tobias Sergel (Gustavus Adolphus in Stockholm), by Étienne Maurice Falconet (Peter the Great in St. Petersburg) and by Jacques François Joseph Saly (Frederick V in Copenhagen). Documents not previously published throw new light on the contacts Schadow during these travels established with the Danish painter Nicolai Abildgaard, a contact, it is here argued, that strengthened Schadow's commitment to use a historically accurate, more realistic and less idealised stylistic idiom when depicting great figures from the national past.
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