On view, art paid for by Carlsberg beer money

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The Independent Online

A stunning collection of art and antiquities purchased with the proceeds of one of the world's best-known beers go on show in Britain this week in the first exhibition outside their home in Denmark.

A stunning collection of art and antiquities purchased with the proceeds of one of the world's best-known beers go on show in Britain this week in the first exhibition outside their home in Denmark.

More than 200 treasures from the collections of Carl Jacobsen and his son Helge, part of the Carlsberg brewing dynasty, have been lent to the Royal Academy in London while their own home in Copenhagen undergoes a £10m refurbishment.

The extraordinary collection includes one of the finest groups of Roman portrait busts in the world and other Roman antiquities described by Mary Beard, one of the show's curators, as even greater than the holdings of the British Museum.

Carl Jacobsen began to make purchases in the 19th century just as Rome was undergoing massive building work and excavations to transform it into a suitable capital city for the newly united Italy.

There are also Greek and Egyptian treasures, including mummies, and French and Danish painting and sculpture from the 19th century, all shown in the UK for the first time. Carl Jacobsen began collecting in the late 1870s. When he donated his collection to the Danish public by deeds of state in 1888 and 1897, their new home was named a Glyptotek - Greek for "a repository of carving".

His son, meanwhile, fell in love with Impressionism and post-Impressionism, which his father thought were "awful, mannered and ghastly".

He bought masterpieces by Monet, Manet, Degas and Cézanne, which he also eventually bequeathed to the public. They are shown alongside his father's in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. One of the features of the Glyptotek are central Winter Gardens, which Carl Jacobsen thought might help attract visitors because "being Danes, we know more about flowers than about art". These gardens have been recreated in the central hall of the Royal Academy with potted palms.

The process of organising the exhibition has had the added benefit for the Glyptotek of forcing it to review the content of its collections, its director, Flemming Friborg said yesterday. In one case, a sculpture long regarded as Minerva has been identified as the personification of Rome.

The exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until 10 December and is sponsored by Danske Bank with Carlsberg UK with extra support from another Danish firm, Novo Nordisk.

In a joint statement yesterday, they said: "Carl and Helge Jacobsen's dedication and commitment to the arts ensured that a collection of the highest quality was donated to the Danish public, and we take great pride in helping to share these treasures with an international audience."

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