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Czech artist makes four-tonne oval for Danish royal sarcophagus

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Zelezny Brod, North Bohemia, May 2 (CTK) – The studio of mould melted sculpture of Czech glass maker Zdenek Lhotsky worked nearly seven years on a four-tonne glass object for the sarcophagus of the Danish royal family which was installed in the crypt of the Roskilde Cathedral in April.

Lhotsky, 61, a pupil of glassmaker Stanislav Libensky and one of the founding members of the Tvrdohlavi (The Stubborn) art group (1987-2001), said this object was a milestone in his work.

He said the author of the work negotiated with glassworks in Japan, China and the United States for several years but in vain before contacting his studio in Pelechov near Zelezny Brod.

The sarcophagus was designed by Danish sculptor Bjorn Norgaard and the process of its production lasted more than 15 years. The aim was to create a modern sculpture in memory of Margrethe II who has been the Queen of Denmark since 1972.

The four-tonne glass oval includes empty space for two life-sized lying royal figures that symbolise the emptiness of power. The oval stands on three pillars of stone taken from Greenland, Faroe Islands and Jutland. The oval seems to be carried by six elephant heads made in Italy of pure silver. Silver facets framing the sides of the oval were made in Prague and gold-plated bronze heraldic symbols on top of the oval were made in Denmark.

Five years ago, a 1:5 model was produced in the Pelechov glassworks. Lhotsky said 14 people took part in the production of the glass object that was made of six pieces. Each of the pieces weighed about 900 kg, of which about 200 kg were cut off. After being melted, each piece had to stay three and a half months in the furnace to cool down.

Lhotsky said he was surprised that Queen Margrethe II wished to meet all those who worked on the sarcophagus in Roskilde. “She sat about ten minutes at the table with us, we had a glass of champagne with her,” he said.

Margrethe II ordered the sarcophagus in 2003.

The two figures in the oval are she and her husband, Prince Henrik, who died in February.

Before his death, Henrik wished that his ashes by partly scattered in the sea and partly placed in a garden of the Fredensborg Palace, which is one of the residences of the Danish royal family.

Lhotsky said Henrik’s wish made it unclear for a while what would be done with the sarcophagus.

Many Danish kings and queens have been buried in the cathedral in Roskilde since the 15th century, including the grandparents and parents of Margrethe II who recently celebrated her 78th birthday.

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