Johannes Wiedewelt

Hardly six months after his return Wiedewelt was named member of the newly organised Art Academy, as well as being named royal sculptor to the Danish Court in 1759, inclusive gratis studio at Materialgaarden near Frederiksholm's Canal. He was known for his good taste in art and his knowledge of antiquities. He became quickly the judge of artistic good taste in Denmark.

In 1761 he became a professor at the Art Academy. He also took on a leading position with Fourniers Porcelain Factory 1761-1766. Wiedewelt wrote a small manifesto in 1762 entitledTanker om Smagen udi Kunsterne i Almindelighed.

He contributed to the decoration of Frederiks Church, also known as the Marble Church (Marmorkirken) with no less than 64 figures and 30 reliefs. Due to the scale of the royal projects, the time constraints and the common practices of the time Wiedewelt often left the direct work of sculpting be carried out by his studio assistants from sketches, which he delivered.

He served as Treasurer of the Academy 1767-1772, and served as Director of the same 1772-1778, 1780-1789, and 1793-1795. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1769, and subsequently in 1778 and 1794.

In 1769 he completed the monument to Frederik V in Roskilde Cathedral which includes a large sarcophagus resting on footpieces and decorated by numerous sculptures, behind which is a column topped of an urn, a medallion with the king's portrait, and on each side of the sarcophagus, sitting approx. 9' high above the floor, are two crowned, grieving female figures representing Denmark and Norway. The memorial chapel was created as a collaboration between Wiedewelt and architect Caspar Frederik Harsdorff.

Starting in the early 1770s, the reaction to Struensee led to a wider distrust of foreigners in positions of power in Denmark. This included the foreign-born artists, especially French artists, in the King's service who lost power and influence in Denmark's official artistic and Academic circles. Friend Jardin resigned his professorship at the Academy on 26 March 1771.

Wiedewelt was chosen eight times as Director of the Art Academy; the last time he held the position was 1793-1794. He worked hard to keep the Academy running well, facing often-shifting attitudes from the court and uncertain royal financial support. He was committed to the end, in spite of ill health in his advanced age.

He also worked until the end, even though his own financial means worsened drastically, and he lived in abject poverty. During his many years of good economy he lived a festive life with no restrictions, and he was very generous. When times became rough, as it did not only for him but also for others who were accustomed to royal support, he suffered along with the royal house's financial problems. In spite of his meager economy he continued to support two elderly sisters, a servant man, as well as a poor cousin. He had never married.

His works are a part of the royal households and gardens. Those in the gardens are the largest collections of his works in one place. He viewed his garden decorations as creating an outdoors theatre presentation relating to the surrounding trees of various types, to figure groups of sculptures and to decorative columns and obelisks. He had a sense of the developing romantic garden.

His memorial monuments are spread out in churches throughout Denmark, with the royal monuments at Roskilde Cathedral. Many of these monuments can be found at Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen.

Wiedewelt, along with architect Harsdorff, was one of the primary figures responsible for introducing Neoclassicism to Denmark. He was highly esteemed by his contemporaries and by those artists who followed. He is considered an important transitional figure leading to future generations of Danish artists.

He had a large library of books covering many subjects, which often served as a source of inspiration.