The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 21.7.1800

During his visit to Thorvaldsen in Rome in 1818, the historian H.F.J. Estrup collected information for a biography of the sculptor. Here Estrup reports a story which seems to be related to Abildgaard’s statement about Thorvaldsen’s lack of diligence: “A foreign traveller, who he [Thorvaldsen] thinks is the Swede Åckerbladt, told Abildgaard that Thorvaldsen did nothing in Rome and thus earned him a reprimande.”
Åckerbladt is identical with the Swedish diplomat and orientalist Johan David Åkerblad. He was in Rome in 1798-99, and here he made a list of artists in Rome, which says about Thorvaldsen: “Thorwaldsen Danese fa niente”.
The album mentioned is not known, but Åkerblad might have seen an album with a motif by Thorvaldsen, which was so insipid that it may have aroused criticism of Thorvaldsen’s efforts.
Thorvaldsen responded indignantly to the accusation in a letter dated 24.10.1800 to Abildgaard: “It has given me much pain to see from your letter that I am accused of not being diligent and that an album has given cause for this as I often in haste and without inclination have dashed down something in various albums. This shall teach me hereafter to beware of drawing in albums when I do not feel up to doing it with diligence.”

Last updated 10.01.2018