The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

A Letter to Thorvaldsen from H. C. Andersen

  • Ejner Johansson, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 1994
  • This is a re-publication of the article: Ejner Johansson: ‘A Letter to Thorvaldsen from H. C. Andersen
    ’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1994, p. 194-196.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.
    For a presentation of the English summary in its original appearance, please see this facsimile scan.

As a young poet Hans Christian Andersen, later to become the world famous writer of fairy-tales, met Thorvaldsen in Rome during his first stay in 1833-34. They founded a friendship, motivated on Andersen’s part by admiration, on Thorvaldsen’s by compassion.

Andersen did not start a correspondence with the sculptor after his year in Italy. However, when he heard that Thorvaldsen was about to return to Denmark from Rome, he wrote him a letter and asked the young sculptor Jens Adolph Jerichau, who was about to start his study trip to Rome, to deliver it. This letter, dated 10 May 1838, gives an account of the literary scene in Copenhagen.

Thorvaldsen’s triumphal homecoming to Copenhagen took place on 17 September 1838, and in his memoirs, The Fairy-Tale of My Life, Andersen mentions that out of modesty he did not visit the sculptor right away. However, in his Almanak, a day-by-day account of his doings, he wrote the day after that he went to see Thorvaldsen, “who kissed me on both cheeks”.

Last updated 11.05.2017