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Christen Købke, The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen

Key facts
Full title The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen
Artist Christen Købke
Artist dates 1810 - 1848
Date made 1837
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 44.2 × 65.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1986
Inventory number NG6507
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Northern Drawbridge to the Citadel in Copenhagen
Christen Købke

Located just outside Copenhagen, the Citadel (Kastellet) was a former military fort where Christen Købke and his parents lived from 1819 to 1833, although Købke often returned there to paint. He painted this view in 1837, possibly for his mother as a souvenir of their former home.

This picture shows a drawbridge (that no longer exists) outside the north gate of the Citadel, which crosses a moat to a guardhouse. Købke made a number of preliminary sketches and an oil study on location before working up the final painting in his studio. Bathed in an evening light, with a hint of pink in the sky, the view is suffused with tones of the complementary colours red and green.

The accurate rendering of the intricate manmade structure recalls the work of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, his teacher at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, but Købke is also expressing nostalgia for the place where he grew up.

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