Normandsdalen – A Nordic Community in Stone
Fredensborg Palace, Fredensborg, Denmark
In 1764 Normandsdalen was created as one of the many elements in the French-inspired gardens of Fredenborg Palace. It is thought that King Frederik V (1746-1766) himself was the instigator of the project.
The story of Normandsdalen goes back to the middle of the 18th century, when Denmark and Norway were still united. A Norwegian called Joergen Christensen Garnaas lived in Bergen and made his living delivering the mail along the west coast of Norway. His hobby was carving small wooden dolls and dressing them in the folk costumes of the regions he visited on his postal route. He sent the dolls to the Royal Collections of Curiosities in Copenhagen.
Garnaas was granted an audience with Frederik V and commissioned to make small ivory figures based on his wooden dolls. The ivory figures were meant to provide a model for royal sculptor Johann Gottfried Grund’s execution of a series of sandstone sculptures in a natural size depicting Norwegian peasants, fishermen, fishwives and other ordinary people.
The statues are erected on gravel surfaces, separated by small, presumable sculptured trees, two pavilions and a column in the middle of the garden, designed entirely in the design idiom of the Baroque.
The tree terraces hold sandstone statues of 60 Norwegians and 10 Faeroese. The texts on the bases of the statues, carved in Gotland sandstone, refer to the regions in Norway and the Faeroe Islands from where the figures originate. The statues are a piece of cultural history about the ordinary people of the time. Their dress and the tools they hold are depicted so precisely that we can read every detail of decoration and design.
After years of neglect the sculpture garden has been reconstructed and recreated from 1984 – 2001.