The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Thorvaldsen's Works, Payment in Installments

Payment in installments

For the large majority of his works, Thorvaldsen received payment in installments—most commonly, in two to four installments per commission. The size and dates of these payments were normally specified in contracts between Thorvaldsen and his clients. The installments were to be paid at significant milestones during the production process, which in the case of sculptures—as well as, to a more limited extent, reliefs—often extended over many years.
If a commissioned sculpture had no plaster model, but was to be created from scratch, payment would typically take place in four installments. The first installment would be paid immediately upon receipt of the commission; the second would fall due when the plaster model was complete, and marble was to be purchased; the third would come after the rough carving of the marble by Thorvaldsen’s assistants; and the fourth was to be paid when the artwork was complete.
If a plaster model did exist, then the first stage of the above process was normally unnecessary, and the schedule of payments often consisted of only three installments.
In the case of busts, payment was frequently divided into only two installments: upon receipt of the commission, and at completion.

For Thorvaldsen, the purpose of dividing payments into installments was both to raise funds to cover the costs associated with initiating a project—for example, purchasing marble, or paying wages to his assistants—and to insure himself against a commission’s sudden cancellation. As Thorvaldsen himself explained the policy:
“When a sculptor receives a commission, he incurs costs for which the advance payment provides insurance, should he be involved with irresponsible personages who might forget to pay after leaving Rome, and so leave the artist in the lurch … as I have occasionally experienced myself …” Cf. his letter dated 5.1.1841.

On the actual prices of Thorvaldsen’s works, please see the Related Article on the subject.
On the principles used by Thorvaldsen to arrive at particular prices for his own works, please see the Related Article on the subject.

Below are examples of how Thorvaldsen organized the schedules of installment payments for his commissions, both for different types of artworks and at different points in his career.

Year Work Price Number of Installments Notes Sources
1803 Jason, A822 600 Roman sequins = 1320 scudi 4 installments 1st installment, 330 scudi: upon completion of the plaster model
2nd installment, 330 scudi: after the arrival of the marble block in Rome
3rd installment, 330 scudi: after rough carving of the marble block
4th installment, 330 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated ca. 21.3.1803
1804-
1810
Ropp’s commission 1420 scudi presumably 3 installments 1st installment, presumably 450 scudi: presumably upon commission
2nd installment, presumably 450 scudi: date unknown
3rd installment, 520 scudi: upon completion
List dated 30.12.1810
1806 Hebe, cf. A37 600 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 200 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 200 scudi: six months later
3rd installment, 200 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 26.5.1806
1807 Henrik Hielmstierne, cf. A210 200 scudi 2 installments 1st installment, 100 scudi: immediately upon receipt of the commission
2nd installment, 100 scudi: upon completion
Letter dated 20.5.1807
1809 Cupid Holding a Butterfly 800 scudi 4 installments 1st installment, 200 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 200 scudi: upon completion of the original model
3rd installment, 200 scudi: after rough carving of the marble block
4th installment, 200 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 20.8.1809
1811 Monument to Auguste Böhmer, A701, A702, A703 At least 150 carolins = ca. 600 scudi 3-4 installment 1st installment, 40 carolins = ca. 160-168 scudi: presumably upon commission
2nd installment, 50-60 carolins: six months later
3rd installment, 50 carolins: upon completion
4th installment, remainder: unknown
Letter dated 18.8.1811
Letter dated 25.2.1812
Letter dated 24.9.1814
1812 Caryatid, cf. A55, and Caryatid, cf. A56, plus plinths, etc. 2000 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 600 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 800 scudi: when the work was half-complete
3rd installment, 600 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 23.12.1812
1813 Monument to Johann Philipp Bethmann-Holweg, A615,1, A615,2, and A615,3 900 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 300 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 300 scudi: upon completion of the original models
3rd installment, 300 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 25.5.1813
1817-18 Józef Poniatowski,, cf. A123 12000 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 4000 scudi: upon signing the contract
2nd installment, 4000 scudi: upon completion of the clay model
3rd installment, 4000 scudi: upon Thorvaldsen’s arrival in Warsaw for the equestrian statue’s installation
Contract dated 8.7.1818
Letter dated 15.12.1817
1818 Christ Assigns the Leadership of the Church to Saint Peter, jf. A565 1100 ”in moneta d’Oro, ed’Argento” [in coins of gold and silver] 3 installments 1st installment, amount unknown: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, amount unknown: when the work was well advanced
3rd installment, amount unknown: upon completion
Contract dated 15.12.1818
1818 Maria Fjodorovna Barjatinskaja, A171 3000 scudi 2 installments 1st installment, 1000 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 2000 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 4.8.1818
1820 Nicolaus Copernicus, cf. A113 2000 ”ducats hollandois” [ducats of the Netherlands] 2 installments 1st installment, 666 ducats and 12 ”florins de Pologne” [Polish florins]: immediately upon commission
2nd rate, 1333 ducats and 6 Polish florins: upon delivery of the plaster model to Warsaw
Contract dated 30.9.1820
1825 Monument to the Duke of Leuchtenberg, Eugène de Beauharnais, cf. A156 16000 ”Piastre Romane” [Roman piasters] 3 installments 1st installment, 2000 piasters: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 6000 piasters: upon completion of plaster models of the entire monument
3rd installment, 8000 piastre: upon completion
Contract dated 8.2.1825
1831 Maximilian 1., cf. A128 9000 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 3000 scudi: upon completion of the plaster model of the horse
2nd installment, 3000 scudi: upon completion of the plaster model of the equestrian figure
3rd installment, 3000 scudi: upon completion and delivery
Contract dated 27.2.1830
1835 Monument to the two Poninski children, cf. A616 2000 scudi 3 installments 1st installment, 500 scudi: immediately upon commission
2nd installment, 750 scudi: when the work was half-complete
3rd installment, 750 scudi: upon completion
Contract dated 27.4.1835

Last updated 14.10.2016