Born near Bremen, Germany, Freund was trained as a smith before studying at the Art Academy in Copenhagen where he was awarded all four silver and gold medals. After graduating, he spent 10 years in Rome where he became Bertel Thorvaldsen's closest assistant as can be seen in his marble bust of Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1820). An early proponent of romantic nationalism, Freund was the first Danish sculptor to work with Nordic mythology, creating 12 statuettes including Loki (1822), Odin (bronze 1827) and Thor (1829), all inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythological works. On returning to Copenhagen, he organized the decoration of Church of Our Lady, preparing models for the figures of the 12 apostles but in the end Thorvaldsen received the commission. His masterpiece, the Ragnarok Frieze, which occupied him for many years, was completed by Herman Wilhelm Bissen after his death but was later destroyed by the Christianborg fire in 1884. There is a plaster cast of part of the frieze in Statens Museum for Kunst. The largest collection of his works is to be found at the Glyptotek in Copenhagen.