Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Besides seeing friends and biking around town (and Noma, of course) I wanted to take in some decorative arts and history in Copenhagen. Rosenborg Castle, in Kings Park, was the perfect place to do so; it's a small, well preserved repository of some of the finest objects from the 17th-19th centuries in all of Denmark. It also houses the Danish Royal Collections-- the crown jewels. Denmark has one of Europe's oldest continuous monarchies and the castle has many rooms that contain their original furnishings, tapestries, finishes and art.

The original structure was a smallish two story summer house built in 1606-7. Subsequent additions, mostly from the mid 17th century, gave the exterior of the building its current appearance. The earliest remaining interior spaces date from 1619 while other rooms were updated and furnished right up to the end of absolutist rule and the adoption of the constitutional monarchy in 1849. Above, green silk and printed gold wall covering in the king's private study, dating from 1700 behind a painting of Christian IV as a boy painted by Hans Knieper in 1585.

The desk in the king's private study, a scriptor made of ebony and gilt wood dating from 1580 and fabricated in Nuremburg. This desk was moved to Rosenborg in 1751 from Gottorp Castle in Germany (which was also a Danish Royal possession at the time and was essentially raided over the years for it's decorative goods).

Chinoiserie panels with faux tortoise shell and silver painted frames in the king's private bedroom. The panels were originally lighter floral scenes, but were painted over in the 1660's by the fashion conscious king Frederick III.

Chinese porcelain figures (likely made for export to Europe) were installed in the room at the end of the 17th century. Aristocrats and royalty couldn't get enough of the exotic far east. Rosenborg was not immune to these trends and would have looked to the ultimate source of all things fashionable, Versailles, for inspiration.

A detail from the new king's chamber. That is Fredrick III on the left and the ebony with sycamore and bone inlay cabinet made by Lorenz Corbianus dates to 1679.

A Japaned wooden cabinet in the kings chamber.

A detail of the lacquering and bronze hardware.

This embossed leather wall covering is originally from Freidricksberg Palace, one of the king's monarchy's country palaces.

The lacquered panels of a small "princesses chamber" on the second floor. The room was used by the king for private conversations with diplomats and advisers off the Frederik IV room, a main reception hall nearby.

Tortoise and mother of pearl bits imbeded in the lacquer.

Frederik IV's room. Originally a reception hall, it was made smaller in 1700 and converted to an antichamber for the king's sister.

Dutch tapestries, a semi-precious stone inlaid cabinet, and a Viennese rock crystal chandelier. After a while, it became a blur of room after room of priceless objects.

And then a little glimpse into the dirtier side of things... this little mirrored room. No doubt inspired by the hall of mirrors at Versailles, but with a distinctly less formal function, the cabinet of mirrors features a mirror in the floor, making it easy to see up the skirts of visiting ladies. There was also an adjacent room that held the king's collection of erotica and a daybed for "resting." A glimpse into the very private part of royalty, which I think must be rare in tours of grand palaces and castles in Europe.

A carved amber chandelier from 1746-53.

In a room decorated by Christian VIII in the empire style dating from 1820. Once again, France (at this point Napoleonic France) serving as the axis of style.

On the third floor, the throne room. These huge silver lions are still used in official royal/state ceremonies today. This was an interesting reminder that the royal family is still very connected to all of the items in the castle.

Just before leaving I came across the Porcelain and Glass Cabinets. Spaces devoted to the display of the royal collection of rare china and glassware.

The Glass Cabinet may have been the highlight of the entire castle. It was built by Frederik IV when he purchased a collection of Venetian glass in 1709. The room, with its pyramid form displays covered in marbled paper and gilt lead. It was just spectacular.

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