The sculptor John Wiedewelt is the standard bearer of neoclassicism in Denmark. Photo: Thomas Rahbek

The Sculptures in the Baroque Gardens

Johannes Wiedewelt carved 67 sculptures for Fredensborg Palace Gardens

The sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt grew up with voluptuous Baroque sculptures awash with detail and decoration. As a young man, he travelled to Rome to study Italian art. For four years, he made drawings and sketches of the city's monuments and studied the simple and harmonious ideals of classical art. 

Roman imperial lions and goddesses in the palace gardens

When he returned to Denmark, Wiedewelt added new aesthetic rules to art and to his sculptures. Purity and simple lines – neoclassicism, as it is called. He created 67 sculptures for Frederick V’s gardens at Fredensborg Palace. The sculptures are scattered around the gardens. There are lions, obelisks and goddesses from antiquity. Wiedewelt was celebrated. He sculpted diligently for the king and nobility until he was well on in years.

The sculptor and his marble end on
the sea bed

However, Wiedewelt came to a sad and watery end. Reportedly, a ship loaded with marble that the sculptor had bought was shipwrecked. With the ship and the marble on the sea bed, the sculptor went bankrupt. One day in 1822, he disappeared and a week later his body was found in Sortedam Lake in Copenhagen.