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A world-class equestrian statue. Photo: SLKE

A world-class equestrian statue

The plaster figure of Frederick V’s equestrian statue is much bigger than it appears to give visitors the opportunity to study the magnificent horse and rider close up

Copenhagen has one of the world’s five finest equestrian statues. It is the statue of Frederick V on horseback which stands at the centre of Amalienborg Palace Square. The plaster replica is in the Lapidarium of Kings. The statue is a world-class masterpiece and took 20 years to complete. The commission was given to the French sculptor J.F.J. Saly in 1754.

Saly wanted to create the most beautiful horse for the king. He therefore studied the 12 most beautiful horses in the Royal Stables. From them he created the ideal horse boasting the finest features from each of the royal horses. Frederick V is sitting on this horse dressed as a Roman emperor. In one hand, he holds the horse’s reins, and the stallion obeys the king’s every command. In the other hand, he holds his command staff. 

200 sailors pulled the equestrian statue of Frederick V into position on Amalienborg Palace Square

The unveiling of the magnificent statue took place on the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the absolute monarchy. Ten years after Saly began his work, the people of Copenhagen were able to view a plaster model of the statue in the sculptor’s workshop in Charlottenborg Palace Gardens. Ten years later in 1771, 200 sailors pulled the 22-ton pre-cast bronze statue over The King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv) and up Bredgade.

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The Lapidarium of Kings