The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 17.1.-14.2.1797

Thorvaldsen places the negation ‘ikke’ in such a way that he seems to say that his books were to be read through “to see if there weren’t any aristocratic books among them”, but the historical background suggests that the negation refers to the adjective aristocratic, i.e. non-aristocratic.
The context was the following:
In war-torn Europe, books could be perceived as contraband. When Thorvaldsen arrived in Naples, Napoleon’s troops were ravaging Northern Italy, and the Kingdom of Naples had already in 1793 joined the coalition against anti-royalist France but had bought peace in 1796. However, the situation was very tense, and therefore the Neapolitan authorities were particularly concerned about revolutionary, anti-royalist, and Francophile sympathizers. So, the signification of this passage in the diary must be that when the customs officers were to check Thorvaldsen’s books, it was to find out whether they were non-aristocratic or non-royalist, i.e. revolutionary from the point of view of the Kingdom of Naples.
See also Thorvaldsen’s list of the books he had brought with him on his journey.

Last updated 23.03.2015