Joseph Mallord William Turner

Copenhagen: Sketches of Buildings Seen in the Frue Plads Area: Two Views of the Church of Our Lady (from the South-East and the Façade); The Spire of St Peter’s Church; The Round Tower; The Main University Building


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 92 × 155 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCV 20

Catalogue entry

These sketches depict Frue Plads Square in Copenhagen. The drawings appear to have been rendered over a very slight and faint sketch of a boat on a waterway (probably the Elbe in Hamburg or one of Copenhagen’s canals).
The principal sketch is of the Church of Our Lady, now the Copenhagen’s cathedral.
Turner’s exterior view of the Church is surrounded by details of the University of Copenhagen’s campus buildings. Its main entrance on Frue Plads Square is recorded in a small sketch at bottom centre. The entrance was ruined during the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen, and reconstructed in 1836 under the auspices of king Frederik VI (1768–1839).1 The monarch is commemorated in the inscription ‘Fredericus Sextus Instauravit’ (‘Repaired by Frederik VI’), which is carved above the doorway of the entrance and transcribed here by Turner. At bottom right is the University’s Rundetårn or Round Tower, built in the seventeenth century as king Christian IV’s astronomical observatory.2 The tower is attached to Trinitatis Church, the exterior of which features columns abelled by Turner as ‘fluted’ and ‘Doric’.
For other drawings of Copenhagen see Tate D30824–D30829, D30832–D30833, D30859, D30861, D30873, D30881, D30883, D30887; Turner Bequest CCCV 2–5, 6a–7, 20, 21, 27, 31, 32, 34.

Alice Rylance-Watson
April 2015

‘København, Kulturhistoriek’, Kobenhavn Historie, accessed 7 May 2015,
‘Short Intro’, The Round Tower, accessed 7 May 2015,

Read full Catalogue entry

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