ABILDGAARD, Nicolai
(b. 1743, København, d. 1809, Frederiksdal)

Biography

Danish painter. He first studied at the Copenhagen Academy before moving to Rome in 1772. In the company of Swedish sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel and painter John Henry Fuseli he began to move away from the classicism he learned at the Academy. He developed an appreciation for the literature of Shakespeare, Homer and Ossian, legendary Gaelic poet. He worked with themes from Greek, as well as Norse mythology which placed him at the forefront of Nordic romanticism.

Five years later, Abildgaard returned to Denmark and began painting in a classical style, demonstrated by his works depicting the Roman authors Terence and Apuleius. From 1789 to 1791, Abildgaard served as the director of the Copenhagen Academy. He also worked occasionally as a sculptor, architect and designer.