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Abildgaard, Nicolai Abraham

The Oxford Companion to Western Art

Marc Jordan

Abildgaard, Nicolai Abraham 


Danish painter, designer, and architect. He was one of the leading Scandinavian artists of Neoclassicism. Born and trained in Copenhagen, he spent 1772–7 in Italy, chiefly Rome and Naples, at a time when the discoveries of ancient art at Herculaneum and Pompeii were beginning to make their full impact. Through the sculptor Sergel he was introduced to Fuseli, whose intensely personal style and choice of subject matter influenced Abildgaard's painting in the 1780s. During this decade he was also involved in the decoration of the Palace of Christiansborg, Copenhagen, and the applied arts were his main interest in the 1790s. The chairs that he designed for his own house on the model of the Greek klismos were widely influential in Scandinavia well into the 19th century. In the last decade of his life Abildgaard returned to painting, taking as his subject scenes from the writers Terence and Apuleius (examples Copenhagen, Statens Mus. for Kunst). He was director of the Danish Royal Academy in 1789–91 and 1801–9. Thorvaldsen was among his pupils.

Marc Jordan


Skovgaard, B., Maleren Abildgaard (1961).Find this resource:

    Swane, L., Abildgaard: arkitektur og dekoration (1926).Find this resource: