Broder Lysholm Knudtzon 1788-1864

Broder Lysholm Knudtzon’s father, Hans Knudtzon, was an immigrant from South Jylland in Denmark. In Trondheim he took over the flourishing Lysholm merchant house after Court Purveyor Broder Brodersen Lysholm died in 1772. Broder Lysholm Knudtzon was the seventh child in this well-off family, and his name is an example that shows how merchants liked to honour respected friends by calling their children after them.
With his older brother, Broder was sent to live with relatives near Flensburg in 1796 for their upbringing, and they remained there until 1802. Then they travelled home on one of their father's boats. In 1807 another long period abroad started. First he was placed with an aunt who was married to an important financier in Nantes. In Paris he was introduced to the Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger. The most important influence on Broder Knudtzon came from England, where he stayed with his brother (Jørgen b. 1784) for six years until 1814. The intention of this stay was to school the brothers in mercantile subjects. But what influenced him the most was more a fundamental understanding and endorsement of English culture, politics and philosophy. The Knudtzon brothers socialised in a circle of national liberalists, which included Scottish economist and thinker James Mill (father of John Stuart Mill), and the poet Lord Byron.
In the eventful year of 1814 Broder returned to Trondheim, while Jørgen stayed behind to enjoy the good life in partnership with the Scot Alexander Baillie, a nobleman. Broder never married, and appears to have lived more off than for the family businesses. The union with Sweden had low esteem and he suffered from the lack of intellectual stimulus he had enjoyed in England. But he corresponded extensively, and exchanged poems and letters with Lord Byron. Broder Knudtzon was the secretary of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters from 1825 to 1831. In 1845 he was one of the founders of Trondhjems Kunstforening [the art museum in Trondheim]. In his country house called Lillegården he would often throw parties, and also often receive visits from England and elsewhere abroad. Many travel recollections from abroad include descriptions of stays with Knudtzon. He had good command of several languages, which made him a useful man for the family firm. In his will he gave his valuable library as well as some furniture to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. All of this is preserved in the grand Knudtzon room in the building in Kalvskinnet.
Recommended reading: Miscellanea Nidrosiensia. 1927. Art. by Olaus Schmidt.

Author: Einar Rædergård