The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on Shifting of Attributes - a Fundamental Feature in Thorvaldsen

It is evidently also relevant that, in 1792, the German sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow i 1792 presented a corresponding relief to the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen as a membership piece. Thorvaldsen’s teacher, Nicolai Abildgaard, was unimpressed by the German, and urged his favorite student to demonstrate how things should be done. Much later, however, Thorvaldsen declared that Hercules and Omphale was not produced as a competitor to Schadow’s work; see the interview with Thorvaldsen on 8.1.1829, item 2. Despite this statement, however, it is not unthinkable that the young, ambitious Thorvaldsen, faced with both an older, foreign artist and his erudite professor, wished not only to shine technically, but also to show that he had his finger on the pulse of the latest aesthetic theories.

The tale of Hercules and Omphale was a recurring motif for Thorvaldsen. Many versions of it are found in the Museum’s collections; see here.
The myth is also mentioned in a poem dated 3.4.1837 in Thorvaldsen’s album.

Last updated 20.03.2015