Carl Johan Bonnesen

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Carl Johan Bonnesen
Carl Bonnesen at work.jpg
Bonnesen photographed in his studio, c. 1900
Born (1868-05-26)26 May 1868
Aalborg, Denmark
Died 13 December 1933(1933-12-13) (aged 65)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Education Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Known for Sculpting
Awards Eckersberg Medal, 1900
Thorvaldsen Medal, 1930

Carl Johan Bonnesen (26 May 1868 – 13 December 1933) was a Danish sculptor. Carl Johan Bonnesen specialised in depictions of animals and exotic, 'primitive' subjects as seen in the first sculpture he ever exhibited »A Victorious Group of Huns« from 1889. It was soon followed by »A Barbarian«, 1891, »The Period of the Huns«, 1893, »A Bedouin«, 1897 and »A Mounted Chinese Warrior«, 1900.

Bonnesen soon had many commissions. At the age of 22 in 1891 his first sculpture was acquired by the collector Heinrich Hirschsprung and cast in bronze (it is today exhibited in the garden by the Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen). His most important patron was the brewer Carl Jacobsen (Carlsberg), who among other pieces ordered »Thor Driving Across the Arch of the Sky« (in copper it stands on top of the brewery buildings at Carlsberg). Bonnesens last great patron was Harald Plum, who had the huge sculpture group »Thors Fighting the Giants« placed on his private island, Thorø (it now stands by the Haustrup Plast factory on the outskirts of Odense). «, 1891, »The Period of the Huns«, 1893, »A Bedouin«, 1897 and »A Mounted Chinese Warrior«, 1900.

Early life[edit]

Bonnesen was born on 26 May 1868 in Aalborg. He first trained to become a carpenter for two years before moving to Copenhagen where he was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1887. There he studied under Theobald Stein and Christian Carl Peters before graduating in 1889.

Extensive travels[edit]

After completing his education, Bonnesen travelled extensively through the 1890s. From 1894 to 1895 he stayed in Paris where he was in contact with the circle around Stephan Sinding with whom he had more in common than he had with Stein and Peters, his former teachers.[1] In 1898 he made a journey to Egypt and East Asia and his travellings also brought him to the United States.[2]


Adam and Eve at the body of Abel, 1900

Bonnesen had a large and diverse production of statues and statuettes. These include Adam and Eve at the body of Abel (1900) and Two Lions in the Danish National Gallery as well as several statuettes in The Hirschsprung Collection.

Many of Bonnesen's plaster casts have since 1969 been exhibited in Thingbæk Kalkminer near Rebild Bakker.

List of public statues[edit]

  • A Barbarian, Garden of the Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen (1891)
  • Thor's battle against the Jötunns, roof of the Ny Carlsberg Brewhouse, Copenhagen (1901)
  • Diana (equestrian statue), Trondhjems Plads, Copenhagen (1908)
  • Christian IX (equestrian statue), John F. Kennedys Plads, Aalborg
  • The Musician, Mozarts Plads, Copenhagen (1913)
  • The Mother, Amorparken, Copenhagen (1932)
  • Thor at War with the Giants, Grounds of Glud & Marstrand, Odense DK (1926)




  1. ^ "Carl Bonnesen". Kundtindeks Danmark (in Danish). Kulturstyrelsen. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  2. ^ Skov, Vibeke. "Carl J. Bonnesen". Den Store Dansk (in Danish). Gyldendal. Retrieved 2011-04-07.