ORNAMENTATION


In Denmark the golden age of sail coincided with the time of absolute monarchy. It is therefore no accident that at the time the ornaments of the ship were interpreted as symbols of sovereignty. The ships were, so to speak, the visiting cards of the absolute monarch. Through the large and amply decorated ships the king could demonstrate his wealth and power in domestic as well as in international waters. All drawings for the ships´ ornamentation therefore had to be approved by the king and given his signature.
While the Chief constructor was in charge of the construction and building of the naval ship, the drawings for the ornamentation were made in fruitful cooperation with the professors of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The actual carving of the large figures was carried out under the leadership of a master carver in one of the workshops at Holmen. The ornamentation often related to the name of the ship or was designed to symbolize, in a stately manner, the king and the power that he possessed. Through the beautiful, hand-colored drawings and the ornaments still preserved in the Danish National Archives it is possible to follow the development in the taste in art from the 1640´s and until the 1850´s; in other words from the baroque period until the end of the era of neo-classicism.