The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Bertel Thorvaldsen's Circle in Rome: the Russian Sculptor Samuil Hallberg

  • Jelena Karpova, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 2008
  • Translation by Lars P. Poulsen-Hansen
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Jelena Karpova: ‘Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Circle in Rome: the Russian Sculptor Samuil Hallberg’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 2008, p. 43-50.

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

Summary

Hallberg was in Rome from October 1818 to October 1828, shortly after his arrival becoming part of the group of international artists and students centred on Thorvaldsen. The article paints a portrait of Hallberg on the basis of a series of hitherto unpublished letters and diary entries belonging to the archives of the Russian State Museum. A contemporary source reports that the Russian community in Rome called him “a walking encyclopaedia” or “the Russian Winckelmann”. The study of antique sculptures was an important occupation for Hallberg: “I draw the antique sculptures, I look at them, and every day I find new things that I have not noticed before, or new beauties in the old, and I admire them”. The meeting with first Canova and later Thorvaldsen was also of great significance: “I have been to visit Canova (...) he himself took us around his work-shop, personally showed us things, personally opened the doors. (...) Thorvaldsen is more straightforward, his style is purer, simpler, especially his bas reliefs are incomparably better than Canova’s, but they do not possess the same charm, the same careful adaptation, and so people are less enthusiastic about them. Thorvaldsen received us coolly and dryly when we visited him (he is a Dane), but he shook my hand when I left. I must admit that I would like to make myself deserving of that man’s attention”. Hallberg’s desire was fulfilled. He assisted Thorvaldsen in various commissions for Russian clients and, like Thorvaldsen, gained a reputation of a portraitist. Common to both of them was a certain pensiveness in their view of the model and the ability to give the face a noble significance at the same time as retaining its individuality.

(Resumé by Margrethe Floryan)

References

I Thorvaldsens Museums arkiv indgår to breve, som relaterer direkte til Samuil Hallberg og Thorvaldsen.

Det tidligste er et brev fra arkæologen Aleksei Nikolaevitj Olenin, direktør for Det kejserlige Bibliotek i Skt. Petersborg, stilet til Thorvaldsen og dateret 12. december 1822 (30. november 1822 efter den julianske kalender). Olenin beder Thorvaldsen om at tage godt imod den unge russiske billedhugger Boris Orlovskij og henviser i den forbindelse til Hallbergs ros af Thorvaldsen i sine indberetninger til Kunstakademiet i Skt. Petersborg. Cf. Jelena Karpovas omtale af Orlovskij side 44.

Det andet brev er fra generalmajor Aleksandr Andrejevitj Sjtjerbinin i det ukrainske Kharkov, stilet til Thorvaldsen og dateret 29. oktober 1824 (17. oktober 1824 efter den julianske kalender), og vedrører bestillingen på to eksemplarer af marmorbusten af tsar Aleksandr 1. Thorvaldsens levering er forsinket, og det giver problemer med opstilling og betaling. Thorvaldsen bliver bedt om at tilbagebetale forskuddet for den buste, der skulle have været bragt til universitetet i Kharkov; Hallberg kan tage imod beløbet. Cf. Jelena Karpovas omtale af denne bestilling side 48.

MF

Last updated 11.05.2017