The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 17.1.-14.2.1797

I.e. 20.1.1797. As mentioned above, the first three days in the diary have been misdated one day early so that the day of Thorvaldsen’s departure from Malta was not “tomorrow” relative to 18.1.1797, but “tomorrow” relative to the day after, consequently 20.1.1797.


Records in the National Archives of Malta, Magna Curia Castellania, Reg. Patentarum, where the Maltese authorities registered departures of ships from the port of Valletta, document that a speronaro captained by the Maltese Vincenzo Portelli sailed 20.1.1797. It must be assumed that Thorvaldsen was on board this boat even though the passenger list has not been checked, cf. journal no 13–2/2006.


In Sørensen & Schirò, op. cit., p. 100, Michael Ellul refers to the same records and mentions a schifazzo, i.e. a different type of boat from a speronaro, as the boat that was said to have taken Thorvaldsen to Sicily 20.1.1797. Originally this boat was to have sailed 19.1.1797, but the note “rim[angon]o in terra” in the margin next to the schifazzo indicates that, because of bad weather, the boat did not leave for Mazara in Sicily until the next day, cf. journal no 13–2/2006.
In this case, the passenger list has been checked, and according to the not particularly careful official who kept the register of departures, one of the nine passengers of the schifazzo was a 20- or 26-year-old Frenchman called “Bertino”. This could be a distortion of the strange Danish name of Bertel, and the fact that he was taken for a Frenchman might be because he was helped by the French pilot François, mentioned above.


Whether Thorvaldsen sailed from Malta to Sicily in one boat or the other so far remains unclarified. However, as Thorvaldsen has no doubt that his boat is a speronaro – it is thus referred to four times in the diary –this possibility must be the most likely.

Last updated 17.03.2015