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Brøndsted, P. O.

    Image Credit: Wikidata

    Full Name: Brøndsted, P. O.

    Other Names:

    • Peter Oluf Brøndsted

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1780

    Date Died: 1842

    Place Born: Fruering Praestegaard, Jutland, Denmark

    Place Died: Copenhagen, Hovedstaden, Denmark

    Home Country/ies: Denmark

    Subject Area(s): Ancient Greek (culture or style), archaeology, ceramic ware (visual works), Classical, Greek pottery styles, and pottery (visual works)


    Archaeologist, museum administrator and early scholar of Greek sculpture and vases. Brøndsted’s parents were Christian Brøndsted (1742-1823), a minister, and Mette Augusta Pedersen (1758-1832). He studied theology at the university in Copenhagen, graduating in 1802 and additional years studying philology at the same institution, for which he was awarded a gold medal in 1804. Through his friend, the philologist Georg H. C. Koës (1782-1811), he met Koës’ sister, Frederikke, whom Brøndsted became engagued. Brøndsted spent the years 1808-09 in Paris with Koës, preparing for a visit to Greece, their lifelong ambition. In 1809 the two traveled to Rome, then occupied by Napoleon, where they met the painter Jakob Linkh (1786-1841), the archaeologist and art historian Carl Haller von Hallerstein, and Baron Otto Magnus von Stackelberg (1787-1837). Together, this group made their way to Greece, their unifying ambition being to write a scholarly topographic and culture description of the country. In 1810 they settled in Athens, where the by Lord Byron, and the architect and architectural historian C. R. Cockerell and his companion John Foster (1887-1846), the latter two joining the group. Brøndsted left for Constantinople with Koës and Stackelberg while Haller, Linckh, Cockerell and Foster excavated the Temple of Athena at Aegina. Koës died of pneumonia in Athens (age 29). In the winter of 1811-12, Brøndsted excavated the sanctuary of Apollo at Kartheia at Keos with Linckh. He returned to Denmark in 1813 by way of Germany. In Copenhagen he was appointed extraordinarius (professor) in philology at the university. He married Frederikke, but she died at the birth of their third child. Brøndsted returned to Rome by 1819, he helped buy antiquities for the Danish king. His account of his trip and scholarship of the Parthenon began appearing in simultaneous German and French editions, beginning in 1825, with an English version planned but never published. A version in his native Danish appeared in 1844; the projected rest of the volumes were never completed. In 1831 his lecture given to the Royal Society of Literature was translated and published in French. In 1832 he became the director of the Møntkabinettet (Coins and Medals collection) in Copenhagen as well as ordinarius professor of philology and archaeology. In this year, too, his Brief Description of Thirty-two Ancient Greek Painted Vases appeared. In 1836 he was invited to become a member of the Society of Dilettanti in London, who published his The Bronzes of Siris. In 1842, at age sixty-one, he was thrown from a horse and died from those injuries.Brøndsted was the first Danish scholar to visit Greece for intellectual reasons. His gift for languages allowed his writing to be known within his lifetime in France, Germany and England.

    Selected Bibliography

    A Brief Description of Thirty-two Ancient Greek Painted Vases, Lately Found in Excavations Made at Vulci, in the Roman Territory, by Mr. Campanari, and Now Exhibited by Him in London. London: A. J. Valpy, 1832; The Bronzes of Siris Now in the British Museum: an Archaeological Essay. London: Society of Dilettanti/W. Nicol, 1836; Reisen und Untersuchungen in Griechenland, nebst Darstellung und Erklärung vieler neuentdeckten Denkmäler griechischen Styls, und einer kritischen übersicht aller Unternehmungen dieser Art, von Pausanias bis auf unsere Zeiten. 2 vols. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1826-30, Danish, Reise i Graekenland i aarene 1810-1813, udg. af N.B. Dorph. Copenhagen: Samfundet til den danske literaturs fremme, 1844; Me´moire sur les vases panathe´naïques: adresse´, en forme de lettre à M. W. R. Hamilton. Paris: Firmin Didot frères, 1833; Interviews with Ali Pacha. Isager, Jacob, ed. Athens: Danish Institute at Athens, 1999.


    Breve fra P. O. Brøndsted (1801-33). Clausen, Julius, and Rist, P. F, eds. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, Nordisk forlag, 1926; Christiansen, Jette. The Rediscovery of Greece: Denmark and Greece in the 19th Century. Copenhagen: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 2000; Gertz, M. “Brøndsted, Peter Oluf.” Dansk biografisk Lexikon. vol. 3. pp-208-215; Isager, Jacob. “P. O. Brøndsted and Greece.” in, Brøndsted, Peter Oluf. Interviews with Ali Pacha. Athens: Danish Institute at Athens, 1999, pp. 13-23.


    "Brøndsted, P. O.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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