You can almost sense the first pangs of Functionalism in Wittmaack & Hvalsøe’s austere neoclassical design for the monumental gateway into Østerbro Stadium. Built in 1926, Wittmaack and Hvalsøe’s grand entry portal was part of a broader expansion that added a new natatorium, fieldhouse, etc. to Copenhagen’s Idraetsanlæg, the first athletics stadium in Denmark. After its completion in 1912, Carlsberg owner Carl Jacobsen donated a cast of Ernst Moritz Geyger’s The Archer to the facility - the cast of Alfred Boucher’s At the Finish Line atop the gatehouse followed 13 years later. Today, Østerbro Stadium is the home ground of 2. Division soccer team B.93, as well as Danmarksserien club B.K. Skjold.
Architects Arthur Wittmaack and Vilhelm Hvalsøe enjoyed a productive partnership after they started their firm in 1916. Working across styles from National Romantic to neoclassical to really nifty early modernism, they designed offices like Copenhagen’s Axelborg, churches like Absalonskirke, theaters like Amager Bio, and housing like Høje Skodsborg. Truly a little bit of everything - one of those firms that got a little lucky and formed at the right time economically and then rode that wave to quietly sculpt the built environment of their city for the next century.
Carlsberg owner Carl Jacobsen donated this cast of The Archer to Copenhagen’s new athletics stadium to inspire athletic excellence (...and further burnish his own reputation and put his personal stamp on a high-profile piece of public infrastructure). Sculpted by German artist Ernst Moritz Geyger, the original version was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1902 (Geyger was popular with despots - Hitler apparently owned one of his paintings). A highly reproduced piece of sculpture, four full-size casts were produced, including this one.
Geyger’s Archer was the centerpiece of a clutch of classical sculpture that decorated the grounds of the original Østerbro Stadium. Classical sculpture isn’t my thing, but it’s kind of a lovely confluence of art and sport. To continue that theme on the new gatehouse, the New Carlsberg Foundation donated At the Finish Line. Sculpted by French artist Alfre Boucher, a friend of Rodin and a mentor to Camille Claudel, the bronze cast of three men reaching towards an unattainable goal was originally made in 1886. Technically, it’s still part of Glyptoteket’s collection today.