The present bust (Kai Sass, op. cit., II, p. 48, illustrated) was carved in Rome in 1821, together with a pendant of the sitter's second wife, Princess Caroline Amalie. The plaster model, which was executed between the 7 and 13 January of the same year, is now in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen (Kai Sass, op. cit., II, p. 41, illustrated). Christian Frederik and his bride were on an extended tour around Europe, which took them to England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as Italy. Nothing would have been more natural during their stay in Rome than that such distinguished personages should have sat to the most celebrated sculptor of the age, not least since he was a fellow-countryman.
Prince Christian Frederik of Denmark (1768-1848) was the son of Prince Frederik (1753-1805), the heir presumptive and brother of King Christian VII. In 1806 he married Princess Charlotte Frederika of Mecklenburg, and around that time began his long career in public life. He made a name for himself as a fervent supporter of the Norwegian cause, and as an advocate of the establishment of a national university. In 1811 the King of Denmark, mindful of Swedish territorial ambitions towards Norway, sent Christian there as his representative and, in effect, the country's ruler. He was subsequently made Prince-Governor and in due course King under a constitutional monarchy, but was forced to abdicate in 1814. Nevertheless, he was able to guarantee that Norway would survive union with Sweden with its independence and constitution intact.
In 1813 he married, en secondes noces, Caroline Amalie of Augustenburg, and after his travels he returned to Denmark, and busied himself with the matter of getting to know the country. On his accession in 1839, at the death of Frederik VI, Christian was hailed as a reformer, but to the chagrin of the more liberal elements of the population, he did not institute a constitutional monarchy. In 1848 an insurrection broke out over the issue of whether Schleswig-Holstein should remain part of Denmark or become part of Germany. The brief remainder of Christian's reign was spent trying to prevent the secession of the duchies, and it was left to his son, Frederik VII, to institute the reforms his father had so carefully prepared.
Christian was a cultivated and learned individual, whose publications include a discourse on the foundation of a Norwegian university (1811), and observations concerning the lava of Vesuvius (1820).