The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 24.10.1800

It is not known with certainty what other works Thorvaldsen is referring to. With this somewhat vague remark, Thorvaldsen may just have wanted to give the Academy the impression that he was working hard, cf. his self-ironic remark about his reports to the Academy in Estrup’s biography: “He did not forget to send the requested report every six months: it always sounded favourable; he wrote it himself.”
According to Thiele I, p. 158 & IV, p. 254 and Thiele 1831, p. 45, Thorvaldsen was said to be occupied at this moment with a Pallas (Athena) and a Melpomene. However, it is not completely certain that these works date from this time.
Regarding Pallas Athena Thiele apparently bases his knowledge on two sources, neither of which dates the work precisely: Frederike Brun writes in ‘Noget om den danske Billedhugger i Rom: Albert Thorvaldsen’, in: Athene, January 1815, p. 12, that a figure of Pallas Athena from his early years was severely criticized by Georg Zoëga. The same story is repeated by Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker in Zoega’s Leben, vol. II, Stuttgart & Tübingen 1819, p. 405, probably based on Friederike Brun, but without mentioning the figure of Pallas. It is uncertain where the dating of the work to 1800 comes from, but Thiele must have considered this year the most likely.
Thorvaldsen doubted that Zoëga ever expressed such an opinion about his Pallas, see point 15 in letter of 8.1.1829 from Frederik Ferdinand Friis to Thiele.
Regarding Melpomene the dating is more certain. Thiele 1831, p. 45 mentions that Friederike Brun saved a sketch of an approximately 75-centimer-tall statue “from destruction”, and that this sketch was in her possession. Moreover, an unnamed Danish artist, who was in Rome in 1803, remembers having seen Melpomene “executed in full size, and that it was later destroyed”, cf. Thiele 1831, p. 156.
Thiele I, p. 158 merely writes that “…Fru Frederikke Brun had a sketch of a Melpomene …”, but not whether this sketch still exists, or whether the statue of the same sketch was destroyed.
Regarding both Pallas and Melpomene, see the related article Lost Works by Thorvaldsen.

Last updated 19.02.2015