The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Variations on a Theme - Christian VII’s Coronation Portrait by Peder Als

  • Mette Bligaard, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 1989
  • This is a re-publication of the summary of the article: Mette Bligaard: ‘Variations on a Theme Christian VII’s Coronation Portrait by Peder Als’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1989, p. 25-35.
    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.

Nine drawn sketches done in 1766 by Peder Als as studies for a full-length portrait of Christian VII in his coronation robes are presented. In addition, a drawing in the Department of Prints and Drawings, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, is linked with the commission in 1766 of a full-length portrait of Christian VII for the great hall at Christiansborg Palace. The room was furnished in honour of the Kings’s marriage to the English Princess Caroline Mathilde.

The nine sketches, which belong to the Frederiksborg National History Museum, constitute a series of variations on the theme “an autocrat’s official portrait”. The Neo-Classicist artist, who had changed style after a stay in Paris and Rome between 1756 and 1762, devised this type of portrait under the influence of the portraiture of e.g. Pompeo Batoni and Anton Raphael Mengs. The vitality of the model and the introduction of Classical sculpture and Neo-Classical furniture are new elements in Danish official portraits. Peder Als undoubtedly used as his point of departure the autocrat’s court ceremony as it was performed in the King’s anointment at Christiansborg Palace Church on 1 May, 1766.

Last updated 11.05.2017