Nicolas-Henri Jardin

Nicolas-Henri Jardin bigraphy, stories - Danish architect

Nicolas-Henri Jardin : biography

March 22, 1720 – August 31, 1799

Nicolas-Henri Jardin (22 March 1720 – 31 August 1799), neoclassical architect, was born in St. Germain des Noyers, Dept. Seine-et-Marne, France, and worked seventeen years in Denmark as an architect to the royal court. He introduced neoclassicism to Denmark.

Royal invitation to work in Denmark

His friend and countryman, sculptor Jacques François Joseph Saly who had been summoned to work in Denmark in 1752 for the royal court, brought Jardin to the attention of King Frederik V as the suitable choice to replace Nicolai Eigtved for the design and building of Frederik’s Church (Frederikskirke), now known as The Marble Church (Marmorkirken), work on which had begun in 1749. A contract to bring Jardin to Denmark was concluded on 12 October 1754, a few months after Eigtved’s death, and included a considerable annual wage for both him and his young, inexperienced brother Louis Henri Jardin.

The brothers came to Copenhagen that same autumn, and they both were named members of the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) on 15 January 1755. They were also named professors at the school of the Academy, where story goes, on account of their inability to speak Danish, they held lectures in French to an audience of students that didn’t understand them. This was, however, not unusual at the time, as many of the Academy’s teachers were foreigners, especially French, including its Director, friend Jacques Saly. Nicolas-Henri was professor in architecture, and his brother was professor in perspective from 1755.


  • A painting by Jean Barbault showing Jardin as Ambassador of Persia, Beauvais, musée départemental de l’Oise, for the Masacarade of 1748.

Frederik’s Church and other assignments

On 1 April 1756 Jardin took over project leadership on Frederik’s Church. His first set of building drawings were different from anything one had previously seen in Denmark, and anticipated the later styles of Claude Nicolas Ledoux and Étienne-Louis Boullée. The plans, however, were rejected on account of the exorbitant expense required to carry them out.

He presented a new set of drawings at Fredensborg Palace summer 1756, which the King accepted, in spite of the Royal Building Commission’s opinion that these plans also were too expensive. The King committed funds to the project, although full funding was never realised.

The plans were monumental, and work went slowly. In 1760 after predecessor Lauritz de Thurah’s death, Nicolas-Henri was named Royal Building Master with responsibility over all royal castles and buildings, as well as parks in Denmark, a position he held until 1770.

He also took over the interior decoration (1756-1759) of powerful statesman and leader Court Marshal (Hofmarshal) Adam Gottlob Moltke’s palace, the Moltke Palace, today known as Christian VII’s Palace, at Amalienborg, after Nicolai Eigtved died in 1754.

His younger brother died at Charlottenborg 1759 at the age of 29. Nicolas-Henri overtook his teaching position.

Prior to 1760 he became an honorary member of the academies in Florence and Bologna.

In 1759 he began work on Bernstorff Palace near Gentofte (1759–1765) and Lundehave, now known as Marienlyst Castle in Helsingør (1758–1762). The work on the garden at Bernstorff Palace, done in cooperation with Joachim Wasserschlebe took until 1768 to complete.

In 1762 he became a corresponding member of the French Academy of Art in Paris. 1762–1763 he traveled to France.

In 1764 Frederick’s Church stood only 9.4 meters above the foundation.

In 1765 he published a large folio of copperplate etchings called "Plans, coupés et elevations de l’église royale de Frédéric V".

Departure from Denmark, return to France

Struensee fell from power at the beginning of 1771, and the country’s general mood turned against all foreigners in positions of power. Jardin resigned his professorship at the Academy on 26 March 1771 and left Denmark. His students at the Academy had included Caspar Frederik Harsdorff, Georg Erdmann Rosenberg, Christian Josef Zuber, and Hans Næss.