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Bindesbøll, Michael Gottlieb Birkner

Bindesbøll, Michael Gottlieb Birkner (1800–56). Danish Neo-Classical architect. In Paris during the 1820s he was influenced by the new theories of Classical polychromy that were then current, and after a period working as an architectural assistant and studying in Copenhagen (1824–33), he spent several years travelling before returning to the Danish capital to work on his masterpiece, the museum in Copenhagen to hold Bertel Thorvaldsen's (1770–1844) sculptures (1839–47). Bindesbøll's designs were selected in a competition in 1839, and the scheme was finalized in 1840. The completed building has five Graeco-Egyptian battered or Vitruvian openings on the entrance-front, set in antis, as it were, between antae and under an Ionic entablature from which the frieze has been elided. This portico seems to have been derived from a synthesis of Schinkel's first project for the Neue Wache Guard House, Unter den Linden (1816), mixed with his Lustgarten Museum-front, both in Berlin. The same battered motifs are repeated (to a smaller scale) on two storeys around the windows of the side-walls. The stucco exterior is painted ochre, with architectural elements picked out in blue, green, and white, and the vaulted interiors painted red, green, and ochre are admirable settings for the white marble sculptures. The airy central courtyard (in which Thorvaldsen's body was buried) has its surrounding walls painted with images of trees: these murals create an extraordinary and memorable backdrop to the sculptor's grave. On three sides of the building is a painted frieze, set just above the plinth, that depicts the transportation of the exhibits from Rome to Copenhagen. The Museum made an important contribution to the C19 debate about polychromy in Classical architecture. Bindesbøll also designed a lunatic-asylum near Aarhus, a charming complex of very simple brick buildings set in a specially created landscape intended to benefit the patients by its beauty and serenity (1850–1); another mental hospital at Oringa, Zeeland (1854–7); the Town Halls of Thisted (1851–3), Flensburg (1852), Stege (1853–4), and Naestved (1855–6); and the Medical Association housing-block, Copenhagen (1853–5), all of which were accomplished works. His son, Thorvald (1846–1908), was also an architect, and became the most prolific of designers in the Art Nouveau style:he also designed the Carlsberg Lager-Beer label.

Bibliography

Bramsen (1959);
Bruun & and Fenger (1892);
Millech (1960);
Wanscher (1903)

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