Gerson Digital : Denmark


3.3 The Patronage of Christian IV

Following the death of Frederick II in 1588, Dowager Queen Sophie became regent, until Christian IV (1577-1648) was crowned officially in 1596. Two years later he started the construction of a completely new castle, in Nykøbing, on the island of Falster. The master builder was the Utrecht sculptor and architect Philip Brandin (active 1562-1594).1 It is known that Queen Sophie gathered artists around her and conducted her own patronage. Just after his coronation, Christian IV made a trip through Northern Germany, spending some time at the court of his grandparents in Mecklenburg, at that time an important centre of the arts.2 A number of prominent architects and artists, who had worked for his father, continued to be active under Christian IV. From 1591, sculptor Gert van Egen (active 1578-1611/12) was involved in the decoration of Kronborg. He was one of the most highly paid craftsmen there. Commissioned by the noblemen who took over the government while Christian IV was a minor, he produced the freestanding funerary monument made from marble and alabaster between 1594 and 1598 for Frederick II and Queen Sophie in the Cathedral of Roskilde [1]. Two small alabaster reliefs with equestrian portraits of Frederick II are attributed to him on the grounds of stylistic similarities [2-3].3

Gert van Egen (I)
Funerary monument of King Frederick II of Denmark (1534-1588), 1594-1598
alabaster, marble ? x ? cm
Roskilde, Cathedral (Roskilde)

Gert van Egen (I)
Frederick II, king of Denmark, on horseback, 1591
alabaster ? x ? cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

attributed to Gert van Egen (I)
Frederick II, king of Denmark, on horseback, dated 1591
alabaster, wood, gilded 41,9 x 26 cm
lower center : Mein Hofnung zu Gott Allein / Trew ist Wilpret, / D. G. R. D.
London, Wallace Collection

In 1606 Christian IV visited his sister Anna, who had been married to James I of England since 1589. In London he had the opportunity to admire many historic buildings, as well as attending hunting parties, celebrations and court ballets at several prominent country estates and castles.4 In 1598 Johan van Wijck (active 1598-1611) became court artist. He is thought to have painted the Hunting scene near the old Frederiksborg Palace (Gripsholm Castle) [4], which is considered to be the oldest painting with a landscape in Denmark.5 As Van Wijck devoted more of his time to tapestry designs after Gerrit Cornelisz. van Haarlem had died in 1601, Remmert Pietersz (c. 1575-1649) quickly took on an active role as portrait painter, a role that he continued to fulfil until his death in 1649. Little is known about his background, but we do know that he wrote fluent Danish. It is possible he may have been born in Copenhagen, where his mother had a business trading in herbs and medicines. He became wealthy and owned a house in Copenhagen. He also taught a number of pupils, including Alexander de Went. His later work consisted mainly of making copies of existing portraits.6

Johan van Wijck (-1611) or possibly Hans Knieper
Hunting scene near the old Frederiksborg Castle, 1580-1584 or 1597-1613
canvas, oil paint 83 x 185 cm
Mariefred, Gripsholm Slott, inv./ 85

The Hamburg-born Jacob van Doort (Ϯ 1629) also worked for Christian IV before 1610 and would continue to do so with some interruptions until 1626. One of his earliest works must have been the small double portrait of Queen Anna Catharina and Prince Christian, dating from 1611, now in Rosenborg Castle [5]. A notable feature of Van Doort’s portraits is the feeling of peace that exudes both from the subject of the portraits and from the composition as a whole. In spite of the details of the fine clothing of the persons portrayed and the refined representation of lace and jewels, Van Doort uses a single colour palette for the whole composition.

Jacob van Doort
Portrait of Prince Christian and Queen Anna Catharina of Denmark, dated 1611
canvas, oil paint 20 x 13,7 cm
upper right : Anno 1611
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 312

Jan Diricks van Campen after Johan van Wijck (-1611)
View of Copenhagen with its harbour in the foreground, 1611
paper, copper engraving 360 x 950 mm
Copenhagen, Royal Library (Copenhagen)

Christian IV rapidly developed into a tireless building master. During his reign Copenhagen became the worthy capital of the Danish state. He provided the city with new fortifications, an arsenal, city gates, a well-equipped port, factories, the new district of Christianshavn built by Dutch engineers, a bourse and university buildings.7 From the early 1620s, canvasses for painting were produced in the Place of Correction and the Orphanage, both of which were modelled and appointed in Amsterdam style.8 In 1611 Van Wijck produced the (now lost) painting for the large print with the Prospect of Copenhagen by Jan Diricks van Campen dating from 1611, that gives a good impression of the city during the building boom [6]. The pleasure palace at Rosenborg was constructed outside the city, and in Hillerød the existing hunting castle Frederiksborg, seen still in its former state in the above mentioned painting attributed to Van Wijck, was almost completely demolished and rebuilt. The Cathedral in Roskilde gained a new royal chapel in 1613, constructed by Laurens van Steenwinckel (c. 1585-1619). New cities were constructed in Denmark, Northern Germany, Southern Sweden and Norway, almost all named after the King, and existing cities were improved.9

Gerrit Lambertsz or studio of Hendrik de Keyser (I)
Saturn, c. 1619-1621
sandstone 176 x ? cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle

In 1613 the King emerged as the victor in the Kalmar War (1611-1613). From that point, Christian IV had large sums of money at his disposal to further decorate Rosenborg and Frederiksborg (that had been largely finished before the war) and to fit them out with tapestries, expensive furniture, decorative series and paintings.10 Hendrick de Keyser (1565-1621) and his assistant Gerrit Lambertsz (c. 1600-1657) were involved in the Marble Gallery at Frederiksborg, with its numerous reliefs and figures of classical gods (1619-1621) [7-8].11 The works were shipped from Amsterdam in parts and put together at the castle. Casper Bogaert (active 1581-1612) who was still involved in the building of Kronborg, was already responsible for all the other sculptures at the castle even before the Kalmar War. The Neptune fountain by Adriaen de Vries (c. 1556-1626), who worked in Prague at the time, was constructed on the forecourt of Frederiksborg between 1618 and 1622. The fountain that is to be seen there today, is a reconstruction dating from the end of the 19th century [9]. Because the fountain was dissembled and looted by the Swedes in 1659, the 16 statues ended up in the Museum De Vries in Drottningholm. One of them is on loan to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam since 1977 [10].12

Gerrit Lambertsz or studio of Hendrik de Keyser (I)
Cybele, c. 1619-1621
sandstone 188 x ? cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle

after Adriaen de Vries
Neptune fountain, 1888
bronze ? x ? cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle

Adriaen de Vries
Triton, blowing on a horn, c. 1615-1618
bronze 157 x 88 x 80 cm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ BK-C-1997-2


1 For Philip Brandin, see Gehring 1921 and Jolli 1999.

2 Lisch 1870.

3 Rosenborg and Wallace Collection, London. See Lassen et al. 1973, pp. 91-94.

4 Strong 1986; Glarbo 1943; Heiberg et al. 2006, pp. 119-121.

5 See Gerson, § 2.4, § 2.8 and § 2.13.

6 Andrup 1937, p. 42; Lassen et al. 1973, pp. 195-197.

7 Wanscher 1937; Lorenzen et al. 1937; Skovgaard 1973; Roding 1991.

8 Olsen 1978; Bang 1996, vol. 2, pp. 116-129.

9 Lorenzen 1937; Roding 1991.

10 Hein et al. 2006; Stein 1987; Heiberg et al. 2006; Lyngby/Skougaard 2011.

11 Drottningholm. Neurdenburg 1948; Larsson 1983; Kragelund 2006. Parts of the original fountain are now in Sweden.

12 Lassen et al. 1973, pp. 121-124; Scholten 1998, pp. 218-229, no. 37; Christensen 2006, pp. 166-172.

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