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The Building of the Royal Palace

 It took over 25 years from when the decision to build a palace in Oslo was first taken until the Royal Palace was completed in 1849. Below is a chronological overview of the important milestones in the process:

The building of the Royal Palace – chronological overview:

On 29 October 1822 the Storting passes a resolution to build a Royal residence in the Norwegian capital. The Storting approves the issue of government bonds worth 150 000 rix-dollars to finance the project.

An article in the newspaper Morgenbladet in February puts forward a proposal to build the Royal residence on Bellevue hill.

In August, brigade lawyer and architect Hans Ditlev Frants Linstow (1787-1851) is engaged to serve on the Commission for the Construction of the Royal Residence. The commission was charged with managing the finances and approving plans from the architect. Since February Linstow had been in Stockholm preparing sketches for the design of the Palace.

The Commission for the Construction of the Royal Palace initiates work on levelling the site on Bellevue hill.

King Carl Johan (Carl XIV Johan of Sweden) approves the final plans for the Palace on which the work on the foundations is based. The plans showed a two-storey building in the shape of an H, fronted with a portico.

On 1 October the foundation stone was laid by King Carl Johan at a formal ceremony on the future Palace Square.

The foundations of the future Royal residence are completed in spring. Some 120 000 of the allocated 150 000 rix-dollars have been spent on the purchase of the land and work on the foundations.

Following a debate on the building project in the Storting on 15 June, 44 vote against and 36 for a proposal to increase the funding allocated to the project. As a result all building work ceases, and most of the workers are dismissed.

Linstow simplifies the original plans for the Palace. The wings extending on to the Palace Square are no longer included and the original H shape is changed to a U. The main body of the building is increased from two to three storeys. The monumental portico is discarded, and the use of detailing in carved stone in the facade reduced to a minimum.

The Storting grants a further 90 000 rix-dollars over a period of three years in order for the construction to begin again.

Construction resumes early in the year.

A topping-out ceremony is held on 1 October, 11 years to the day after the foundation stone was laid. Linstow is granted permission by King Carl Johan to undertake an extended trip abroad to gather inspiration for the extensive work to be undertaken on the interior decoration of the Palace. The trip lasts 15 months during which time Linstow visits Copenhagen, Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and Dresden.

In January Linstow arrives in Berlin and remains in the city until June. He sends several draft plans for the Great Hall and the Palace Chapel to the commission overseeing the construction of the Palace in Christiania. At the Craft Academy in Berlin he studies a number of volumes of prints and makes contact with architects (Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1781-1841) and makers of ornamental components in cast iron and papier-mâché (Geiss and Gropius). Later the same year he visits Dresden and Munich before returning to Christiania in December.

Linstow holds a series of practical and theoretical courses for the craftsmen working on the Palace.

The German-born architect Heinrich Ernst Schirmer (1814-1887) is engaged by Linstow to assist in drawing up the plans for the decor and interiors of the Palace.

Work on the interiors begins.

Architect Johan Henrik Nebelong (1817-1871) is employed as Linstow’s assistant.

On 16 March Linstow completes the proposal for the interior decoration of the Palace’s main floor. A 71-page document, the plans consist of 66 drawings and a written account including cost estimates. The document came to be known as “The Great Composition”.

Work on the interiors continues.

The walls in the antechamber for those awaiting an audience with the King (the Bird Room) are cleaned and made ready for decoration.

Work on the interiors continues.

On commission from the government, Schirmer leaves his work on the Palace to begin preliminary work on the restoration of Trondheim Cathedral.

The decorative painter Peder Wergmann (1802-1869) completes a number of tasks:

  • The ceiling of the Family Dining Room
  • The buffet room leading off the gallery in the Great Hall (Ballroom)
  • The Cavalier Room (in cooperation with August Thomsen, 1813-1886)

Wergmann is also commissioned to decorate the chamber later to be named "the Wergmann room".

The artist Johannes Flintoe (1786-1870) begins work on decorating the Bird Room with scenes of Norway.

Work on the interior decoration of the Great Hall begins.

Decorative painter Jacob Emilius Wunderlich (1809-1892) completes his work on the ceiling of the Great Hall on 15 July.

King Carl Johan’s 25-year anniversary as the union monarch is celebrated in Norway and Sweden. His monogram is placed over the Royal box in the Palace Chapel.

Flintoe’s work on the decoration of the Bird Room nears completion. Wergmann works on the decoration of the Palace Chapel.

King Carl Johan dies on 8 March, and is succeeded by King Oscar I.

The craftsmen receive instructions to use stucco marble for the columns in the Upper Vestibule, instead of the Norwegian marble already being carved at Hop near Bergen.

The Storting grants additional funding of 108 000 rix-dollars for the building project. The portico is built as originally planned. The wings are extended by six rooms on each floor, and the pitch of the roof in the main body of the building is lowered.

King Oscar I visits Christiania and wishes to make a few changes to the layout of the rooms at the Palace to make the building more suitable as a residence for the entire Royal Family. The throne room becomes the drawing room in the Royal apartment, the suite of three rooms leading off the Great Hall becomes an apartment for the Crown Prince, and a proposal is put forward to divide the Banqueting Hall into two storeys with a number of smaller rooms on each floor. This proposal is later rejected.

The more detailed work on the interior of the Queen’s apartment gets underway.

Plans and drawings for the Palace furnishings are approved.

The White Parlour in the Queen’s apartment is completed.

The building work is completed, as is the work on the interior decoration and the furnishings.

The Palace is formally taken over by the Royal Family at 1 pm on 15 March. The Lord Chamberlain receives the Palace on behalf of King Oscar I.

In his speech that evening the Lord Chamberlain extends the following words of thanks to Palace architect Linstow: “I have been asked by His Majesty the King to thank you, Palace Superintendant, for your boundless energy, your artistic contribution to the interior decoration of the Palace, and your unwavering insistence on quality. I would also like to add a personal thank you for your steadfast approach in the face of the difficulties you have encountered and the hardships you have endured.”

The Royal residence was formally opened by King Oscar I on 26 July 1849 and was later used by the Royal Family during stays in Christiania.


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H.M. Dronningen var til stede da kurator Nina Høye fortalte om utstillingen Slottet og Linstow. Dronningen kommenterer til slutt (Foto: Liv Osmundsen - Stills: Helge Hovland, Det kongelige hoff)