The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Bindesbøll and the Polychrome Facades

  • Anne Lise Thygesen,, 1998
  • This is a re-publikation of the article:

    Anne Lise Thygesen: ‘Bindesbøll and the Polychrome Facades’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1998, p. 39-45.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.


Bindesbøll was very open to new ideas, including polychrome architecture. His interest was awakened during a visit to the architect Gau in Paris while travelling abroad 1822-23; it was reinforced during his second journey 1834-39, which took him through Germany and Italy, entailing a prolonged stay in Rome and excursions not only to Pompeii, but to Athens and Istanbul. Everywhere he went, he made a keen study of colour. He had four main sources: the recently discovered Greek polychromy, Etruscan graves, Pompeian room decorations and medieval, especially North Italian, church decorations. The many proposals for a museum to house Thorvaldsen’s works show influences from them all, though the influence from Pompeii was strongest, as is seen in the Museum as finally built.

It is worth noting the parallels between the views of Bindesbøll and the contemporary German architect Semper on architecture and colour and on the significance of public buildings for the population and for incipient democracy.

Last updated 11.05.2017