KØBKE, Christen
(b. 1810, København, d. 1848, København)

A View of the Square in the Kastel Looking Towards the Ramparts

c. 1830
Oil on canvas, 30 x 23 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Købke is one of the most distinguished of the so-called painters of the Danish Golden Age, whose work represents a brilliant contribution to nineteenth- century European art. He started training as an artist at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen in 1822, and from 1828 became a student of C.W. Eckersberg. Købke usually painted small-scale pictures of great precision - landscapes, studies of architectural subjects and portraits of his family and friends. Whatever the subject, he invariably combined carefully observed, often richly coloured naturalistic details, with a sense of controlled abstract design.

This painting was made in about 1830, when he was developing his mature style, and shows the bakery in the Kastel, which is a castle in Copenhagen that served as a prison. The three figures in the foreground are Købke's father, who owned the bakery, Major J.J. Krohn, and the slave Sergeant Sporch (the prisoners were described as 'slaves'). The scene was one with which Købke was very familiar as he lived within the castle compound from 1817 to 1834. In the later 1830s his family moved out of Copenhagen and he concentrated on depicting more rural scenes; subsequent visits to Germany and Italy broadened the scope of his subject matter still further.

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