The David Collection
History and museums
The David Collection (Danish: Davids Samling) is a museum of fine and applied art in Copenhagen, Denmark, built around the private collections of lawyer, businessman and art collector C. L. David.
The museum is particularly noted for its collection of Islamic art from the 8th to the 19th century, which is one of the largest in Northern Europe. The museum also holds fine and applied art from Europe in the 18th century and the Danish Golden Age as well as a small collection of Danish early modern art. All the works of art in the collection of Danish early modern art were acquired by C. L. David himself.
The museum is located in a neo-classical building in 30 Kronprinsessegade in central Copenhagen, overlooking Rosenborg Castle Garden. From 2006 to 2009 the collection was closed to the public while the premises underwent a major refurbishment and rearrangement. When it reopened on 15 May 2009, it was described as "the most exclusive museum in Denmark" in national Danish newspaper Politiken.
The museum is built around the private collection of C. L. David (1878–1960), a barrister of the Danish Supreme Court. The building in Kronprinsessegade which houses the museum used to be the private home of the founder and was originally bought in 1810 by his great-grandfather, C. N. David, but sold again in 1830. In 1917 it was re-acquired by C. L. David, who took up residence in it but also made his collection available to the public at the upper floors of the building.
On 12 December 1945, the collection, along with the building which houses it, became the independent institution, the C. L. David Foundation and Collection, and the museum opened in 1948. Over the years, the exhibition space was continuously expanded and rebuilt as the collections grew. In 1960, on the death of its founder, the Foundation became the sole heir to his fortune.
In 1986, the foundation acquired the adjacent property, 32 Kronprinsessegade, where the architect Vilhelm Wohlert, also known for the design of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, designed a whole new gallery for the expanding collection of Islamic miniatures in 1990.
Further rebuildings have gradually included more rooms and improved facilities. In 2006 the museum was temporarily closed to the public when it embarked on a major refirbishment and rearrangement of the collections. It reopened on 15 May 2009.
Following the Copenhagen Fire of 1795 the king granted the city a strip of land which had been part of the Rosenborg Castle Gardens. It was on this land that Kronprinsessegade 30 was built in the years 1806–07 together with other houses in the street.
The building was constructed in the prevailing neo-classical style for Captain J. C. Krieger by his brother-in-law, the city surveyor, J. H. Rawert. The floor plan of the building along with that of the other houses in the street is a characteristic L-shape consisting of three rooms facing the street, the dining room in the corner of each floor — where the front building meets the side building — together with a series of smaller rooms in the latter section. The side building is further extended by means of a side annex of five storeys which originally included the kitchens and servants’ quarters.
The architect Carl Petersen was responsible for the first rebuilding of the top floor, where the roof was given a steeper pitch so as to create adequate space for two large, skylighted rooms. This rebuilding was completed around 1920.
Part of the top floor were made into three rooms, finished in neo-classical style with partly coffered ceilings, tall panels, and patterned parquet floors. Two of the rooms also had skylights since these rooms were used as galleries. The woodwork still attracts much attention. The wood comes from the King Christian VI's dock, which was broken up in 1918. The darker or lighter colour of the oak depends on the time it has spent in the water.
In 1928, the architect Kaare Klint designed two exhibition rooms for the growing collection of porcelain. The walls are covered with Douglas-fir and the exhibition cases were manufactured in Rudolf Rasmussen's workshop. The rooms and the exhibition cases are still in use, but now exclusively for the Islamic collection.
The current rebuilding of the museum, lasting until 15 May 2009, is undertaken by Wohlert Arkitekter.
The collection is most noted for its collection of Islamic art and contains works from almost the entire Islamic cultural sphere, from Spain in the West to India in the East and dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
The European and Danish collections include:
and paintings by:
Poul S. Christiansen
Cornelis Gerritsz Decker
C. W. Eckersberg
H. G. F. Holm
Gillis Jacobsz van Hulsdonck
P. S. Krøyer
Johan Thomas Lundbye
Agnes Cathinka Wilhelmine Lunn
J. P . Møller
Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn
P. C. Skovgaard
David Teniers II
Hendrik Cornelisz van Vliet
Jens Ferdinand Willumsen