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Johan Martin Quist

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Johan Martin Quist

Johan Martin Quist or Qvist (1755–1818) was a Danish architect who made a significant contribution to the city of Copenhagen. Together with those of Andreas Hallander, his classically styled buildings form part of the legacy of 19th century Danish Golden Age architects who reconstructed areas of the old town which had been destroyed by fire.[1]


Johan Martin Quist was born in Copenhagen on 3 September 1755, the son of Nicolaj Mathiessen Quist, a shoemaker, and Anna Marie Elisabeth Engelbrecht. After being trained as a mason, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts under the influential C.F. Harsdorff, winning the large silver medal in 1775 and the small gold medal in 1781.

Quist was one of the Copenhagen builders who so quickly and effectively helped to reconstruct the areas of the old town which had been destroyed by fire in June 1795. His imposing apartment buildings are inspired by Harsdorff's neoclassical style. He and his fellow builders formed a close-knit group, reinforced by their membership of the civil guard and fire corps. They married each others' daughters and widows and acted as godfathers at christenings. Huge fortunes were made as they bought plots of land, built them up and sold them again.

Quist's earliest recognised building is Lykkens Prøve, later the Christianis Institut boys school, on Vesterbro which, in line with Hardorff's own model on Kongens Nytorv, was decorated with four fluted pilasters in the inset central section while the lateral sections were accentuated with sandstone balconies on the first floor.

After the great fire, building regulations called for buildings on street corners to be set back to provide more room for fire engines. Quist took advantage of the new rules by designing bow-shaped corners, for example in the building on the corner of Knabrostæde and Kompagnistræde in 1797. Two years later he built an even more effective corner house at 47 Vimmelskaftet where both facades boasted pilasters on three floors.

Quist, who died in Copenhagen on 25 April 1818, is buried in Assistens Cemetery.


His most important work is Gustmeyer House opposite Christiansborg Palace on Ved Stranden. Completed in 1797 for the well-to-do merchant, F.L. Gustmeyer, it is one of Copenhagen's first bourgeois residences with free-standing columns. All Quist's surviving works are now listed buildings.

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