Cemetery Classicisms in Copenhagen

Last week I explored classical heritage in the context of a crematorium in a 20th-century cemetery in Aarhus. This post presents a few comparative examples of classical heritage from Copenhagen’s Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro neighbourhood. The one above is one of my favourites: the tombstone of Peter Christian Abildgaard (1740-1801). The inscription lists his achievements as a scientist (which included making a hot-air balloon!), civil servant, citizen, and human being, in that order. It also refers to his date of death through the wonderfully poetically phrase, “hvor Døden lukkede hans blide Øje” (“when death closed his gentle eyes”). Below the text is a relief of the Ephesian Artemis (with a slightly unusual light house placed on her head) by Peter Christian’s little brother, Nicolai Abildgaard (1743-1809). The social “circle” of Danish classicism was always very small.

The second example (below) makes another striking reference to a famous classical statue, specifically Kephisodotos’ Eirene, here depicted with not one (Ploutos) but two infants to really hammer home the message of abundance. There’s more that you probably ever want to learn about the graves in Assistens Kirkegård in this 1000-page catalogue: Assistens 250 (2010).

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