The Carlsberg Museum: Quite Possibly the Best Ancient Collection in Copenhagen (Part One)

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The name Carlsberg is synonymous with beer.  It’s quite funny that with every bottle of beer that got guzzled, the Carlsberg family was able to amass a fortune which was put towards buying art.  Next time you want a beer that supports the fine arts, buy Carlsberg.

The entrance to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The entrance to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

But seriously, the history of the Carlsberg beer empire and the museum is deeply linked.  It was JC Jacobsen who founded the brewery in 1847, named after his son, Carl.  The pair worked together until a rift in 1882 led Carl to create his own brewery, Ny Carlsberg (New Carlsberg), at which point his father changed the name of his business to Gammel Carlsberg (Old Carlsberg).  In 1906 the two companies merged and the name of the company returned to name of Carlsberg.

Having established this, it now makes sense that the museum is called the Ny Carlsberg – because it was opened in 1897, when a distinction still needed to be made between the two Carlsbergs.  It doesn’t mean that it’s a new museum.

Anyway, back to Carl Jacobsen.  He loved ancient art – which makes him my soul buddy.  He amassed quite an extraordinary collection of Greek and Roman statues, but over the years he also acquired French and Danish sculptures.  His home was extended with a winter garden in 1882, and opened to the public.  But the sculptures quickly outnumbered the plants, so he kept extending his house until there were 19 galleries.  At this point, he realised he needed an new space to house his marble habit.

In 1888, Jacobsen donated his 18th and 19th century statues to the Danish State and City of Copenhagen, on the proviso that they found a suitable building for them.  Space by the Tivoli Gardens was offered up, which Jacobsen wasn’t too happy about, not least because of its vulgar entertainment.  However, there they stand today, side-by-side – an amusing juxtaposition of high and low culture.

Despite having given his collection away, Jacobsen was still very active in the setting up of the museum – he chose the architect, Wilhelm Dahlerup, and the name Glyptothek, after Ludwig I’s extraordinary museum of ancient art in Munich.  The museum opened in 1897, and two years later, Jacobsen donated his ancient art too, so the museum had to be expanded – with Dahlerup designing the winter garden which connected the old wing to the new wing, designed by Hack Kampmann.  It opened in 1906.  

In more recent years there have also been extensions and redesigns – the last big project being in 2006.  I blame these last ones for not doing something about the lighting: it gets dark quite early during winter in Denmark, and the lighting in many galleries was either ambient, or stark.  It was a bit strange and didn’t do justice to the works on display.

The Winter Garden

One of the most striking aspects of the Glyptotek is the Winter Garden.  Brimming with tropical plants, and striking palms, there is a cosy, cute vibe to the place.  I can imagine that people visit the museum basically to see this – and it is so very attractive, if you get free entry, I think it would be nice place to pop in and enjoy without visiting the galleries.  I wouldn’t do that, obviously, because I am an ancient art nut – but I can see why non-art fans would want to.

The artwork in the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The artwork in the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The fountains and palms of the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The fountains and palms of the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The architecture of the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

The architecture of the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

There were sculptures and Roman bits-n-bobs scattered around the garden, including these gems:

Sarcophagus showing a Girl Making Music in the central medallion, 3rd century AD, Rome, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  There are two theatrical masks beneath the central medallion, and there are cupids at either end of the sarcophagus, extinguishing their torches, to symbolise death.

Sarcophagus showing a Girl Making Music in the central medallion, 3rd century AD, Rome, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  There are two theatrical masks beneath the central medallion, and there are cupids at either end of the sarcophagus, extinguishing their torches, to symbolise death.

Attendants leading a sheep to sacrifice, 1st century AD, Rome, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  I love the way the sculptors weren't sure how to do sheep's wool, so they went for scales instead.

Attendants leading a sheep to sacrifice, 1st century AD, Rome, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  I love the way the sculptors weren’t sure how to do sheep’s wool, so they went for scales instead.

Epitaph for three drowned siblings, Athens, early 1st century AD, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Epitaph for three drowned siblings, Athens, early 1st century AD, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Let’s start by having a look at the Egyptian section, and the Near Eastern/Etruscan rooms downstairs.

Ancient Egypt

A very impressive Egyptian collection is on show in a cutely Egyptian designed room and some side galleries.  The skill of the Egyptian artists is nicely demonstrated with the range of objects you get to see – sometimes it’s easy to dismiss the ancient Egyptians as making much-of-a-muchness art for two thousand years.  But rather like when you get endless Virgin and Child’s in the Renaissance, the more you look, the more you start to appreciate the small differences.

An Egyptian Room, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The pattern on the floor is amazing.

An Egyptian Room, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The pattern on the floor is amazing.

Detail of Priest Ahmose and his mother, Baket-re, from the back, c1490-1400 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of Priest Ahmose and his mother, Baket-re, from the back, c1490-1400 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of Priest Ahmose and his mother, Baket-re, c1490-1400 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of Priest Ahmose and his mother, Baket-re, c1490-1400 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Gebu, Master of the Royal Treasury from the Temple of Amun at Karnak, c1700 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Gebu, Master of the Royal Treasury from the Temple of Amun at Karnak, c1700 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Official and his wife, c1300-1080 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Official and his wife, c1300-1080 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Anubis from the Temple of Luxor, 1403-1365 BC, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Anubis from the Temple of Luxor, 1403-1365 BC, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Priest Hori with a Statue of Horus, from the Temple of Osiris at Abydos, c1290-1224 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Priest Hori with a Statue of Horus, from the Temple of Osiris at Abydos, c1290-1224 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Smug cat with amber eyes, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Smug cat with amber eyes, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Roaring (Laughing) Hippopotamus, c1990-1550BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Roaring (Laughing) Hippopotamus, c1990-1550BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Praying Iehneumon (mongoose), Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Praying Iehneumon (mongoose), Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tight-lipped Fish, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Tight-lipped Fish, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Figure of Imhotep, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Figure of Imhotep, Ancient Egypt, bronze, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Figure with traces of gold, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

High-ranking official with rock crystal eyes, c2450 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

High-ranking official. Depicted wih a short wig, which was a symbol of his status. Rock crystal eyes. c2450 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Spoon for ointment or make-up, Tomb at Sedment, painted wood, c1400-1365 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Spoon for ointment or make-up, Tomb at Sedment, painted wood, c1400-1365 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Scribe, c1400-1365 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Scribe, c1400-1365 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Figure kneading, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Figure kneading, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Funerary stele for Hefrer, c600-500BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Queen or Goddess, Sculptor's Model, 4th-3rd cent BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Queen or Goddess, Sculptor’s Model, 4th-3rd cent BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

King Amenemhat III, c1842-1795 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

King Amenemhat III, c1842-1795 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Near East

The small but lovely Near Eastern collection on show was worth seeing.  I took some awful photos, and because we’d had a long day in the Danish National Museum and then the Glyptotek, I was also extremely tired and failed to take pictures of tags.  I’m clever that way.

Gudea, Ruler of Lagash, c2144-2124, Sumer, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Gudea, Ruler of Lagash, c2144-2124, Sumer, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of the writing on the statue of Gudea, Ruler of Lagash, c2144-2124, Sumer, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of the writing on the statue of Gudea, Ruler of Lagash, c2144-2124, Sumer, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Sumerian Ruler, 3rd millenium BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Sumerian Ruler, 3rd millenium BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Winged Genius, Protector of the King, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Winged Genius, Protector of the King, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Fragment showing an Assyrian King, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The detail of the flowers on the fabric over his shoulder is just lovely.

Fragment showing an Assyrian King, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The detail of the flowers on the fabric over his shoulder is just lovely.

An attendant, I think it's Assyrian, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

An attendant, I think it’s Assyrian, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Two happy dudes toasting each other - I'm guessing Assyrian - Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Two happy dudes toasting each other – I’m guessing Assyrian – Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Horseman and griffin, I think it's Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Horseman and griffin, I think it’s Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Little miserable man holding his belly (and a gratuitous extra on the left because I don't have enough porn on this blog) - I think it's Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Little miserable man holding his belly (and a gratuitous extra on the left because I don’t have enough porn on this blog) – I think it’s Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Vessel in the shape of a sprightly hare, Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Vessel in the shape of a sprightly hare, Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Vessel of a haunted monkey, Etsruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Vessel of a haunted monkey, Etsruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bushy eyebrowed chick with nose-ring, Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bushy eyebrowed chick with nose-ring, Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Goddess of the Underworld, c450 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The goddess was placed in a tomb, and the head can be removed.

Goddess of the Underworld, c450 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  The goddess was placed in a tomb, and the head can be removed.

Detail of the Goddess of the Underworld, c450 B,, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Detail of the Goddess of the Underworld, c450 BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Back of the Distinguished Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Back of the Distinguished Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Front of the Distinguished Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  Possibly placed in a tomb pouring libation to a god in the underworld.

Front of the Distinguished Etruscan, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark.  Possibly placed in a tomb pouring libation to a god in the underworld.

Etruscan girl, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Etruscan girl, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Etruscan figures of warriors, from the sanctuary in Vigna Marini-Vitalini, Caere, c.510BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Etruscan figures of warriors, from the sanctuary in Vigna Marini-Vitalini, Caere, c.510BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Etruscan figures of warriors, from the sanctuary in Vigna Marini-Vitalini, Caere, c510BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

Etruscan figures of warriors, from the sanctuary in Vigna Marini-Vitalini, Caere, c.510BC, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

…please click here for Part Two…

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