Folketingssalen Frieze – Copenhagen, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

Copenhagen, Denmark

Folketingssalen Frieze

An "evil painter" included pointed symbols in this artwork to poke fun at members of the Danish Parliament. 

This frieze was painted between 1918 and 1921 by the artist Rasmus Larsen, an expert in decorative frescoes. It covers a corridor in Christiansborg Palace, which houses Folketingssalen (the Danish Parliament).

The 879-foot (268-meter) artwork is full of flowers and other floral touches. But you’ll also notice animals and phrases that symbolize the vices of the Danish politicians and remind them that their true role is to serve the people.

These latter details were not part of the original plan—Larsen added them after deciding the flowers were too boring. His decision to include the unflattering symbols and sayings earned him the nickname of “the evil painter.”

If you follow the frieze, you can see that the more Larsen painted, the more ironic his comments became. According to local lore, his additions infuriated the then-Minister of the Interior, Ove Rode, so much that Rode withheld his salary. Because of this, the “evil painter” included the phrase “Do not pick the fruit until it is ripe. If weeds have to be eliminated, don’t forget Rode” in the frieze, using a variation of “rødder” (roots) to poke fun at the politician.

Know Before You Go

There are guided visits in Danish and English to the Danish Parliament, though you should book in advance. Admission is free.

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