HARSDORFF, Caspar Frederik
(b. 1735, KÝbenhavn, d. 1799, KÝbenhavn)

Biography

Danish architect and interior designer. He was born to German-born schoolteacher Johan Christopher Harsdorffer from Nuremberg and his Swedish-born wife Anne Marie Eriksdatter. He is considered to be Denmark's leading Neoclassicist architect in the late 18th century, and is referred to as "The Father of Danish Classicism."

When the Royal Danish Academy of Art opened in 1754 at Charlottenborg Palace he was able to study under French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin (1720-1799). In 1756 his design for a city gate won the Academy's large gold medallion, giving him the distinction of being the first Danish architect to win the coveted award. The award included a six-year travel grant.

He traveled to Paris 1757, and he stayed there four years, and studied under Jacques-FranÁois Blondel (1705-1774), an architect to Louis XV of France. In 1762 he traveled to Rome, where he discovered the remains of Ancient Rome, and drew and measured the antiquities he studied.

He returned to Denmark in 1764, and was named Building Inspector. That same year he was invited to join the Academy, where he was accepted as member in 1765, and named Professor in Perspective in 1766, and Professor of Architecture in 1771. As professor he played an important role in the classical education of the next generation of architects, including Christian Frederik Hansen.

1766-1769 he built the memorial chapel for former Lord High Steward Count Adam Gottlob Moltke at Karise Church in Faxe, which had been begun by his former teacher and now fellow Professor at the Academy, architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin.

In 1770 he was named Royal Building Master to the court of King Christian VII, and in 1771 a member of the Main Building Directorate.

In 1773 he designed the pulpit at Our Saviour's Church (Vor Frelsers Kirke) in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. The Neoclassical wood pulpit is painted to look like golden marble.

He also was commissioned to enlarge the Nicolai Eigtved-designed The Royal Theatre (1748) on Kongens Nytorv that year. In the course of his work on this project he received permission to develop the site between the theatre and Charlottenborg Palace, home of the Art Academy, which he then developed 1779-80 as a home for his family. Rebuilding of the theatre was carried out 1773-74.

1774-79 he designed and started building the austere memorial chapels for Christian VI and Frederik V at Roskilde Cathedral. Work on this project, however, was stopped in 1779 because of lack of money. The work began again many years after his death, and was completed by his student Christian Frederik Hansen.

1781-85 he did the interior design in two large rooms at The Royal Library. 1794-95 he designed and built the colonnade at Amalienborg Palace to connect the recently occupied King's palace, Moltke Palace, with the Crown Prince's residence, Schack's Palace.