Moving a tad North, then a bit West
Friday-Monday, December 1-4
Packed up and ready to go, we headed north from Copenhagen to continue exploring Funen Island, our first stop being Frederiksborg Slot, the summer castle Frederik II (1534-1588) bought as a manor. A favorite of the king, it was also the birthplace of his son, Christian IV (1577-1648) who heavily renovated the place. Unusual in not being on a coast or river, Frederiksborg was constructed for the specific pleasure of the king, not for defense. And, it was definitely a beautiful ‘home’.
We arrived early, which gave us time to gaze at this magnificent building (and to pose).
A popular royal residence during Christian IV’s time, the castle increased in importance after his son, Frederick III (1609-1670), became an absolute monarch. From then until Frederick VII (1808-1863) signed the constitution in 1848, all kings were anointed (not simply crowned) in Frederiksborg’s stunning chapel.
That latter king, Frederik VII, frequently stayed at this castle until a fire in 1859 destroyed much of the building. Considered a national treasure, the brewer magnate, Carl Jacobsen, stepped in and helped raise the funds to restore Frederiksborg. It being a symbol of Danish greatness, he convinced the powers-that-be to establish a National Museum here in 1877, partly to offset Denmark’s loss of the Schleswig and Holstein duchies in 1864 (and, if you want to read some confusing history, try following that yo-yo’ing ownership of these two territories).
Jacobsen’s wish came true in 1878 when King Christian IX (1818-1906) signed a royal decree creating a National Museum at Fredriksborg. We’re lucky he did for this castle offered the same spectacular touring as Rosenborg did the day before.
And, as with Rosenborg’s surplus of information, I’ll limit our touring to some of the highlights:
We entered the “Rose” room, called the Knight’s room during Christian IV’s time. This served as a dining room for the court. Note the real antlers on the wall. I guess they ended up with venison for dinner. A lot of it by the amount of the antlers stuck on stucco deer noggins.
One of the most spectacular rooms is the Chapel. Until 1848 when Frederick VII (1808-1863) signed the constitution, Denmark’s kings (and queens) got to be supreme beings beginning in the mid0-1600s.
Can anyone say “gilt”?
Each interior shouted sumptuousness, including the royal bedrooms.
As we passed through the linked rooms, we noted some oddities, such as the 17th-century elevator chair allowing the king to rise up through the floor. Hmmm, you’d think they’d want to come down from the ceiling.
However they landed, they managed to land in rooms promoting self-adoration, such as the Audience Chamber where the above chair sat. Christian V (1649-1699), Frederik III’s son, outfitted this room in a baroque style,
all to pay homage to himself with portraiture and grandiose decor. I have a feeling we may be seeing a similar theme in a white house before too long.
With so many rooms (over 80) one could get lost, and, that we did in spite of following the little map. I also found myself zipping through some, halting my speed-tour if I recognized a name. Which is how I dallied a bit longer in Countess Leonora Christiana’s (1621-1698) space.
Daughter of Christian IV and his second wife, Kirsten Munk (1598-1658), this princess married Corfitz Ulfedt. He later betrayed his father-in-law, which resulted in both Corfitz and Leonora being branded as traitors. Crofitz eventually escaped while she ended up spending over 21 years in solitary confinement. During her imprisonment she wrote an autobiography which became a best-seller. If any of the excerpts are true, it’s no wonder it still fascinates readers.
Leonora spent the last few years of her life at a monastery, and the room displayed an altar cloth she donated in 1697 with a poem she wrote and signed.
I’ve only given you a tiny peek into this castle’s amazing history. Throughout the entire castle, portraits and paintings of important scenes related Denmark’s history. The picture below captures the 1169 victory of Valdemar the Great (with his sword) and Bishop Absalon (with the cross) over the Wends, a Slavic-speaking people living on the Baltic Sea’s southern coast and who plundered Danish coastal towns. The historian, Saxo Grammaticus (150-1220), documented the account in his GESTA DANORUM (STORY OF THE DANES).
While so many large paintings tell the history of Denmark and its royalty, I relish the ones relating smaller moments such as this one of two kings, Christian IX and Edward VII of England, enjoying a conversation. They were in-laws as Alexandra, one of Christian’s six children, married Edward in 1863, one of the six reasons Christian IX was called “Father-in-law of Europe”.
Every now and then we’d get a glimpse of the surrounding grounds,
with Max testing if the windows actually opened.
We ended up in the 2009 photographic gallery focused on portraiture. Here we saw the realistic portraits by the Danish artist Mads Rye
with a video demonstrating his technique.
His style reminded us of our friend Graeme’s amazing paintings (Graeme Smallfield), the latest one shown below:
We are fortunate to have friends who are able to express themselves through wonderful art, Graeme being one, with Ellen, Bobbi, Deborah, Kathryn, Brad , Suzanne, Rebecca, Layne, Kathy, Tracy, and another Traci being a few of the others. Each have their own style, all marvelous. I envy their ability to pen scenes in paint, clay, glass (and other materials) as opposed to words. I predict a future post on their work!
Our tour completed we headed for our next site, a museum I’d been wanting to tour since first reading about it this summer: the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The name comes from the original property owner’s villa called ‘Louise’; and that name just happened to be the name of the owner’s three wives. Makes one wonder if that’s how he chose his spouses?
Initially built in 1958 and expanded to its current circular shape by 1991, the museum features a menagerie of international, modern art in its low-slung building. Did we get lost (again)? Yes, numerous times, and that’s even holding a map. At one point I had to get directions from one of the guards who, by the way, shared my feelings regarding some of the artists’ bizarre work.
But, back to our wanderings, which first led us outdoors before the sun set. Reminding us of the lovely Kroller-Mueller Museum in the Netherlands,
but, one perched beside an expanse of water looking across the Kattegat to Sweden, versus inland.
We followed a path dotted with sculptures…
and ended up back inside. For several hours we alternated between feeling besieged by what some call art, such as the video of a spitting mother,
to extremely puzzled by Ed Atkin’s avatar “Dave”,
to finding ourselves captivated in wonder
by art in the form of a chain-reaction video.
Easier to understand were the static paintings and photographs, which lined walls:
David Hockney’s (b. 1937) “A Closer Grand Canyon”…
George Condo’s (b.1957) “The Lunatic”…
and Reineke Dijkstra’s (b. 1959) “Beach Portraits” (one shown here).
Being a Friday night with extended hours, the museum began to fill with other viewers–an entertaining way to spend one’s evening.
After a cold night (but met a great group of Scots at our B&B, which warmed up the atmosphere),
we drove to Roskilde, home to a Viking Museum and a Cathedral. The Viking Museum ended up being a quick walk-through. The one in Oslo spoiled us with its three, almost complete hulls and grave treasures. In Roskilde what was worth seeing were the five different models of very, partially reconstructed ships used during those times:
the fishing vessel, probably more for transport than fishing based on a number of rowlocks removed…
the coastal trader with a crew of 5-8 men, primarily propelled by wind, average speed of 4-5 knots…
the ocean-going trader with decks fore and aft and an open hold midship, crew of 6-8 men, average speed of 5-7 knots…
the small longship with 13 pairs of oars and holding about 30 warriors, average speed of 6-7 knots….
and, the most impressive–the longship, with 30 pairs of oars and holding 65-70 warriors, average speed of 12 knots (2.5 knots when half of the crew rowed).
How’d you like to see THIS row into your neighborhood?
Of course, where there’s a ship, there’s my captain… and, a good sport he is :)
Exiting the museum we walked up the hill to the real treasure of Roskilde: the Cathedral. Driving towards the town you notice two spires on the horizon, alerting you that a rather large building was up ahead.
And, you’re not disappointed. Standing next to it you feel the grandeur of this soaring brick and mortar. Roskilde being the capital during the Viking Age, Harold Bluetooth (king from 958 until his death in 985/86) first built a wooden church on the site. Subsequent churches followed until Bishop Absalon (bishop 1158-1201) started this one in the 1170s. By 1280 the main body was complete, resulting in “one of the earliest examples of French-inspired Gothic brick architecture” (Roskilde Cathedral Guide).
Like most of these medieval (and earlier) cathedrals, I could flood you with so many amazing details, but won’t. I will tell you this cathedral holds the bodies of many kings and queens, one of the most significant being that of Queen Margrete (1353-1412). Her reign began as a regent to her son Olaf II (1370-1387). After his death at age 17, she ruled, becoming one of the most significant leaders due to her forming the Kalmar Union of Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 1397, which lasted until 1523.
She adopted a relative, Eric of Pomerania (1381/82-1459) naming him as king in 1397. To reinforce the legitimacy of his rule (and cash in on her fame) he moved Queen Margrete’s body from Sorø to Roskilde in 1413 in an elaborate, three-day ceremony.
Unfortunately, Eric’s reign didn’t garner the popularity of his adoptive mom. A messy situation ensued between Eric and the nobles resulting in his being deposed in 1439 by the Danes and Swedes, followed by the Norwegians in 1440. Nothing like a squabbling bunch of rich folk and a leader who just doesn’t cut it. But, let’s move on…
Chapels on either side of the nave hold subsequent kings and queens. Christian IV’s is particularly notable with two large paintings highlighting key events in his life: the 1644 sea battle aboard TREFOLDIGHED when he lost his eye
and as a judge exposing forgery.
What’s really cool about these works of art is their setting. What looks like three-dimensions
turns out to be two.
Along with coffins of the king (with his sword on top)
and immediate relatives is a statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen commissioned by Christian VIII in 1840.
In the chapel of King Frederik V a total of 12 coffins reside with his being the focal point:
A peculiar item one of the chapels was a column noting the height of royal visitors. I guess royalty gets a cathedral column instead of a home wall!
The booklet pointed out another interesting item: a padlocked mouth carved on one of the Canons, Hans Henriksen, because he refused to give up the location of the church treasure during the 16th-century Reformation.
Looking up we saw King Chrisian IV’s private box
and a 1400 clock where we heard the bellowing of the dragon when Saint George kills it (but missed capturing it) followed by the chiming of the bells
reminding us our time touring Roskilde Cathedral was up.
We left Roskilde and drove off the Island of Zealand onto the Island of Funen, stopping in Odense, Hans Christian Andersen’s (1805-1875) hometown. Here, we followed the city map (and the easy to spot footsteps)
from his parents’ tiny, two-room home located in the right-hand part of this house,
where he slept on the bench opposite his parents’ bed
prior to eventually finding fame and fortune in Copenhagen. I won’t go into his life story but it’s an interesting rags-to-fame one.
Our time in Denmark was almost up but not before two more stops, soon to be told…