The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on Thorvaldsen's Spoken and Written Language

Cf. Thiele, I, p. XIV: “Once all of this diary’s easily recognizable fragments had been assembled with burning avidity, the study remained of deciphering these unclear and often lost letters [of the alphabet], which often represented words merely phonetically, words that one had to guess, and could do so only once one had discovered a bit of the context.”
This apt description, it should be noted, appears immediately following Thiele’s account of his discovery of Thorvaldsen’s letters in Rome during the summer of 1844 (for more on this, see the Related Article on the History of the Archives). Here Thiele describes the letters’ partial decomposition, perhaps thereby giving the reader the impression that this was the reason for their illegibility.
By coupling the above account, therefore, with the statement that he had permitted himself to correct Thorvaldsen’s spelling and punctuation as necessitated by the demands of reading, Thiele can be said to have understated the problem. All the same, Thiele did not pretend that letter-writing was uncomplicated for Thorvaldsen. Rather, at Thiele I, p. 207, he matter-of-factly describes Thorvaldsen’s study of Danish, including grammatical exercises, in Rome in 1803, under the guidance of his mentor, Georg Zoëga—and indeed cites this as proof of Thorvaldsen’s affectionate regard for his fatherland.

Last updated 13.03.2016