4.4.1800

Sender

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location

Rom

Recipient

Nicolai Abildgaard

Recipient’s Location

København

Information on recipient

Tilskrift: Til Her JustisRaad Abildgaard
Udskrift: A Monsieur / Monsieur N. Abildgaard / Professeur et Conseiller de / l’Academie des Beaux arts / à / Copenhague / Franco TrentoI.

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.

Abstract

Thorvaldsen has received Abildgaard’s latest letter and thanks him for everything he does to promote him. He regrets the high costs involved in shipping the first crate of works to Copenhagen. He intends to send another two crates and gives an account of the contents. Abildgaard has asked him to buy some catalogues, but he cannot afford them and asks for money to be sent. He is carving the marble bust of Raphael, A752.

Document

Rom den 4de April 1800.

Gode Hr JustisRaad

Med stor Fornøyelse har ieg imodtaget Deres sidste BrevII Hvoraf ieg seer at De befinder Dem frisk og vel som altiid skal glæde mig at høre. At De har været tilfrids med mit ArbeideIII fornøyer mig usigelig, og skylder ieg Dem min varmest Taknenmelighed for de mange Godheder som De beviser mig til mit Vel og Fremgang som ieg aldrig skal Glemme at skiønne paa.
At min KasseIV som ieg skikkede til Dem har været saa Dyr giør mig undt. Den Fortegnelse SpedisionnærenV gav mig paa Omkostningerne til Livorno beløb sig i alt til 30 Scudi som ieg alerede fand meget Dyrt, men 62rd er udforskammet. Jeg har bebreidet ham derfor men han giver Skylden paa den i Livorno og siger at have skreven ham til derom. Men hvad hielper det den enne Bedrager er vel lige saa god som den anden, og da man ikke kan føre Proces med ham for man faaer ikke Ret paa nogen Maade her, saa er det Beste ikke mer at tænke derpaa. De to sidste KasserVI som gaar under Addressen til Dem Hr JustisRaad haaber ieg ikke skal blive saa Dyre enskiønt ieg har seet mig nødt til at sende dem over Land til Livorno. Den første Kasse bestaaer af en i Giips af Hovedet af PolluxVII og hele FigurenVIII af samme, tillige med en liden Pakke fra Hr Zoega til Dem og to til Her Docter MünterIX. I den anden findes Marmorbusterne af BernstorffX og HomerusXI og en liden Pakke til Münter og en anden til Madame BrunXII. Jeg har i begge Kasserne opfyldt de overflødige Huller med Bøger Ruller og Pakker som Hr FrisXIII eller hans Svoger Tømmer Mester WestXIV imodtager. Saa snart Academiet har seet mit Arbeide saa kan JustisRaaden disponere over det efter got Befindende. Ikkun ønskede ieg at JustisRaaden finder en Liebhaber der kiøbte eet af Busterne og saaledes forskaffe mig en liden Summe tilsendt som ieg her med Fordel kunde anvende.
De 3 Dele som De mangler af Museum Pio ClementinoXV har ieg siøgt i det Haab at faae dem at kiøbe under Haanden men har hidentil ikke fundet dem. I CalcografienXVI begiærer man 6. ZecchinerXVII for hver TommeXVIII som nok blev noget Ringere naar ieg kunde kiøbe demXIX, men det udgiør en større Summe en som ieg eier, saa seer ieg mig tvungen til at bede at De vilde være saa god at skikke mig noget, og da skal ieg strax besørge det og sende Dem paa den Maade som De har forlangt af mig. Alt andet som ieg kan finde og som kan interessere Dem skal ieg ikke mangle at kiøbe naar det kun ikke er for Dyrt, da mig af min Pention ikke bliver meget tilovers: for alting hvad Levnetsmidler angaar er fire gange saa DyrtXX som de nogen Tiid har været. Det lidet ieg har kundet forskaffe mig af Kobberstik har været i Begyndelsen ieg kom hertil, medens Sædlerne endnu RouleredeXXI, hvorved de Fremmede for nogen Tiid havde stor Fordel. Men siden disse fald har Kiøbmandskabet været forbi.
Raphaels BysteXXII har ieg under arbeide i Marmor som TermeXXIII i Overenstemmelse med Deres ForlangendeXXIV og saa snart denne er færdig agter ieg at lægge Haand paa en Marmorstatue i levende StørrelseXXV, dersom ikke Bekostninger i disse Tiider da ogsaa Marmoren er overmaade Dyr skulde hindre mig deri. I Overbeviisning om Deres vedvarende Godhed for mig, og i Tillid at De ikke vil forsømme nogen Leilighed til at befodre mit Beste,

  henlever ieg
B. Thorwaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, April 4th 1800

Sir, Counsellor,

It was with great pleasure that I received your latest letter from which I see that you are well and healthy, which will always please me to hear. That you have been satisfied with my work gives me unspeakable delight, and I owe you my warmest gratefulness for the great kindness you show my welfare and progress, which I shall never forget to appreciate.
I am sorry that my crate which I sent to you has been so expensive. The list which the shipping agent gave of the expenses to Leghorn amounted to a total of 30 scudi which I even then found very expensive, but 62 rix-dollars are exorbitant. I have reproached him for it but he put the blame on the agent in Leghorn and says he has written to him about it. But what is the use of that, one swindler is as good as the other, I suppose, and as he cannot be sued, we cannot come into our own here in any way, so the best thing is not to think more about it. The two latest crates which are sent to your address Sir, I hope shall not be as expensive though I have found it necessary to send them by land to Leghorn. The first crate consists of one figure of plaster of the head of Pollux and the entire figure of the aforementioned, besides a small parcel from Mr Zoega for you and two for Doctor Münter. In the other one there are the busts of Bernstorff and Homer and a small parcel for Münter and another one for Mrs Brun. In both crates I have filled up superfluous hollow spaces with books, rolls and parcels which Mr Fris or his brother-in-law carpenter West will receive. As soon as the Academy has seen my work the Counsellor may use it at your discretion. I should only wish that the Counsellor would find a purchaser who would buy one of the busts and thus provide me with a small sum sent hither which I could use with advantage.
I have been looking for the 3 volumes you want of Museum Pio Clementino in the hope of being able to buy them privately, but have not found them hitherto. At the Calcografia pontificia they demand 6 Zecchines for each volume, which perhaps would be less when I was able to buy them, but it amounts to a greater sum than what I have, so I find it necessary to ask you to be as kind as to send me some, then I shall see to it immediately and send them in they way you have asked me to.
Everything else which I can find and which may be of interest to you I shall not omit to buy if only it is not too expensive, as not much is left me of my pension: for all as to victuals is four times more expensive than it has ever been. What little I have been able to procure of prints has been at the beginning when I came here, while the notes were still in circulation, by which foreigners for some time enjoyed great advantage. But since they fell business has been over.
I am working on Raphael’s bust in marble as a herma in accordance with your demand, and as soon as it is finished I intend to set to work on a life-size marble figure if costs should not prevent me these days when also marble is incredibly expensive.
In the confident assurance of your continued kindness to me and trusting that you will lose no opportunity to support the best for me,

  I spend my time,
B. Thorwaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Håndskriftafdelingen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, NKS 2337, 2º.

Thiele

Gengivet hos Thiele I, p. 150-152.

Subjects

Persons

Works

A752 Rafael, 1800, inv.nr. A752
A52 Jason med det gyldne skind, 1802-1803, inv.nr. A52
A1 Bacchus og Ariadne, 1798, inv.nr. A1
A225 Tyge Rothe, 1797, inv.nr. A225
A208 A.P. Bernstorff, 1797, inv.nr. A208
A751 Homer, 1799, inv.nr. A751
A54 Pollux, 1799, inv.nr. A54

Commentaries

  1. Dvs. Franco Trento, hvilket ville sige, at portoen var betalt indtil grænsebyen Trento beliggende i provinsen Trentino i det nuværende Norditalien syd for Brennerpasset.

  2. Letter of 3.12.1799 from Abildgaard.

  3. In his latest letter of 3.12.1799, Abildgaard praised the works which Thorvaldsen had sent to Copenhagen in 1798. The works were: the group Bacchus and Ariadne, A1, the portrait bust of Tyge Rothe, A225 and a copy of a colossal Bacchus head, see the commentary to the above-mentioned letter from Abildgaard.

  4. In 1798 Thorvaldsen sent two crates to Abildgaard/the Academy of Fine Arts, the related article about Transportation of Crates.

  5. Dvs. speditøren, sandsynligvis en tillempning af det italienske “spedizioniere”.

  6. In the spring of 1800, Thorvaldsen sent two crates to Abildgaard/the Academy of Fine Arts, see the related article about Transportation of Crates.
    These two crates were delayed and did nor arrive until 1802.

  7. A copy of the head of one of the so-called Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, on Monte Cavallo on the Quirinal Hill in Rome.
    In his letter of 12.10.1799, Thorvaldsen writes that the head was executed in half size after a plaster cast. Thorvaldsen himself owned copies of the heads of both Dioscuri in the original size; they are now in Thorvaldsens Museum, L123 and L124.

  8. In a letter of 12.10.1799, Thorvaldsen informed the Academy of Fine Arts that he had copied the whole figure of one of the Dioscuri but in half size after the original. He had been permitted to work in Palazzo Consulta, which is next to the Dioscuri in Piazza di Monte Cavallo. He also writes that he has had his copy cast, and that this is the cast he has sent to the Academy of Fine Arts. The original is now in Thorvaldsens Museum, A54.

  9. The Danish ecclesiastical historian and bishop Friedrich Münter.

  10. The marble bust of A.P. Bernstorff, which Thorvaldsen carved in Rome ca. 1797-98, see his draft of ultimo 1797 to Abildgaard. On the basis of the mask, A724, of the bust, A856, from 1795, Thorvaldsen modelled a new bust of Bernstorff in 1797 in the classical style or à la romaine, i.e. without a whig and drapings. The original plaster model of this bust is in Thorvaldsens Museum, A208, while the marble version today is at Brahetrolleborg.
    See Else Kai Sass: Thorvaldsens Portrætbuster, Copenhagen 1963-65, vol. III, p. 60 (no 15) & 62 (no 27).

  11. Thorvaldsen’s marble bust of Homer, A751. The bust is a Hermæan copy after an antique portrait of Homer in the Museo Nazionale in Naples, cf. two plaster casts in Thorvaldsen’s collection of casts, L137 and L138.

  12. Friedrich Münter’s sister, the Danish author Friederike Brun.

  13. The Danish architect Peder Friis.

  14. Thorvaldsen’s good friend Jørgen West.

  15. In letter of 3.12.1799 Abildgaard asked for three volumes of the catalogue of the part of the Vatican collection which is in the so-called Museo Pio-Clementino, established by the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799). The title of the catalogue is: Il Museo Pio-Clementino, descritto da Giambattista e Ennio Qvirino Visconti, T. I-VI, Roma 1782-96, (copy in Thorvaldsens Museum, M134).

  16. The Papal printing works. La Calcografia pontificia was established in 1738. From 1762 it was situated on Montecitorio.
    Chalcography means copperplate engraving.

  17. I.e. un zecchino, a gold coin weighing 3,537 grammes, see the related article about Monetary Units.

  18. Tome, dvs. bind.

  19. Thorvaldsen must have thought that he could somehow get a reduction if he bought the catalogues himself.

  20. Around 1800 the living costs in Rome were high, which Thorvaldsen also mentioned in his letter of 22.4.1801 to the Academy of Fine Arts. Cf. also Thiele I, p. 164.

  21. Thorvaldsen is probably referring to the fact that people with foreign currency made huge profits during the first years of his stay in Rome. He also told this to the historian Estrup in the latter’s biography of the sculptor.

  22. Thorvaldsen’s bust of Raphael, A752. The bust is a free version of the sculptor Pietro Paolo Baldini’s (also known as Naldini) (ca. 1605-1650) bust of Raphael, which in 1674 was placed on the painter’s tomb in the Pantheon in Rome. Thorvaldsen’s bust is Hermæan, and the painter is shown without clothing. Baldini’s portrait bust, on the other hand, shows a large part of the chest dressed in contemporary clothes and mounted on a round base.
    Thorvaldsen’s bust of Raphael remained with Abildgaard after its arrival in Copenhagen and was not acquired by Thorvaldsens Museum until the auction in 1850 after the death of Abildgaard’s widow.

  23. Dvs. i hermeform.

  24. In his letter of 3.12.1799., Abildgaard asked Thorvaldsen to execute the bust of Raphael as a herma.

  25. This is presumably the first reference in the sources to the sculptor’s principal work, Jason with the Golden Fleece, A52, since he writes in letter of 24.10.1800 to the Academy of Fine Arts: “ … what at present especially occupy me is a naked full-size figure which represents Jason…”
    As far as we know Thorvaldsen was not, at this moment, occupied with other “full-size” statues which were also meant to be executed in marble, so the most likely explanation is that the identical reference to the size of the statue and its execution in marble confirms that Thorvaldsen is here referring to Jason.

Last updated 20.03.2016