Pictorial art constitutes a large part of the royal art collections, in that the Royal House has always bought, received and even produced paintings, miniatures, drawings and prints. The collection, which consists of several thousand pictures, hangs in the royal palaces and castles. It spans widely, from pocket-size miniatures dating from the 1600s to large contemporary abstract wall paintings.
A large part of the older painting collection became state property in connection with the abolishment of the absolute monarchy in 1849. Other works are owned and held by The Royal Danish Moveable Property Trust, while the rest of the paintings--primarily from the period after 1849 until today--are the Royal Family’s private property. Paintings are loaned to museums that would like to exhibit them, but always with the permission of the Royal Couple or the Crown Prince Couple.
Many of the older paintings associated with the Royal House, especially portraits of the royalty, have been transferred over time to The Royal Danish Collection at Rosenborg Castle and in Christian VIII’s Palace at Amalienborg. Both function as museums for the Danish royal house. Here the public can see paintings of Danish kings, their queens and their children by known Danish and foreign painters, including Karel van Mander, C.G. Pilo, Jens Juel, C.W. Eckersberg, W.N. Marstrand and Laurits Tuxen.
Numerous paintings are found in the functioning palaces and castles, where a considerable number are incorporated into the architecture, thereby functioning as part of the permanent interior. That is true of, for example, Louis Tocqué’s large portraits of Frederik V and queen Juliane Marie, which in full scale welcome guests in the Great Hall of Christian VII’s Palace in Amalienborg, François Boucher’s charming overdoor pieces with cherubs in the same room, and Karel van Mander’s illusionistic ceiling paintings in the side pavilion of the palace. The adjoining building, Christian VIII’s Palace, also displays a number of interesting paintings, for instance in the Throne Room, where one can see Nikolai Abildgaard’s painted allegorical representations of four continents: America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
Approximately 800 paintings, especially works from the 1600s and 1700s, can be seen at Fredensborg Palace. Here, as in the Amalienborg palaces, paintings have been integrated into the architecture. That can be seen, among other places, in the Garden Room, which is decorated with Jacopo Fabrisi’s architectural fantasies, and in the high-ceilinged Dome Room, where J.E. Mandelberg painted the large, richly-coloured scenes from the Trojan War.
Contemporary painters are represented by, among others, Niels Strøbek, who is the artist behind two symbol-filled portraits of the Royal Couple, and Thomas Kluge, whose photo-realistic portrait of the Prince Consort hangs in the residence palace in Amalienborg. Meanwhile, the newest artworks in the Royal House are the quite modern wall and ceiling paintings in Frederik VIII’s Palace in Amalienborg. The paintings were done in connection with the renovation of the palace, and behind the artworks stand a group of younger Danish artists, including Tal R, John Kørner og Katherine Ærtebjerg.