Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Kunstakademiet, København

Recipient’s Location


Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.


Thorvaldsen informs the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts that he has sent two samples of his work, i.e. the marble portrait bust of Tyge Rothe, A225, and the small group Bacchus and Ariadne, A1. He apologizes for the group as he has not been able to finish it as thoroughly as he would have wanted due to illness.
He promises to send new works soon.


Rom d 30e Juni 1798

Underdanigst Pro MemoriaI

Jeg giver mig den Ære at melde det Kongelige Academie at ieg har modelleret en liden Gruppe forrestillende Bachus og AriadneII, og udført en Buste i Marmor som er Portrædet af Salig Etas-Raad RotheIII. ieg har afsent begge StykkerIV under Adræsen til Her Justice Raad AbildgaardV. Hvad Gruppen angaaer forlader ieg mig paa Academiets Godhed som vel undskylde Arbeides Mangler, og ieg troer at være sikker paa at den skulde have bleven bederre og mere udført der som ieg ikke var bleven syg af koldfeberVI, og ModellenVII ved den ledlighed havde begynt at falde ned for mig, saa ieg saae mig nødt til at lade den forme som den var.
Jeg skal nu stræbe med al mulig flid snart igen at tilsende det kongelige Academie en prøve af mit Arbeide, haabende den vil udfalde paa en Maade saa den nogenledes kunde fortiene sammes Bifald.

B. Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, June 30th, 1798

Most humble Pro Memoria.

I have the honour of informing the Academy of Fine Arts that I have modelled a small group representing Bacchus and Ariadne, and made a bust of marble which is the portrait of the late Councillor of State Rothe. I have sent both pieces to the address of Counsellor Abildgaard. As to the group I trust to the kindness of the Academy which will excuse the deficiencies of the work, and I think I am certain that it should have become better and more fully executed if I had not fallen ill from ague and the model on that occasion had begun to fall down for me, so that I felt obliged to form it as it was.
With all possible diligence I shall now strive to send again soon to the Academy a sample of my work hoping that it will turn out so that it may fairly deserve the Academy’s approval.

Most humbly,
B. Thorvaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

Regarding receipt of this letter the journal of the Academy of Fine Arts of 30.7.1798 (The Danish National Archives, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, Dagbog) reads: From the pensioner, sculptor Thorvaldsen a letter was received, dated Rome the 30th of June, in which he reports that he has executed a group in plaster, representing Bacchus and Ariadne, and a bust of Councillor of State Rothe, which he has sent to the address of Counsellor Abildgaard.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Rigsarkivet, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, journalsager, 1798, nr. 20.


Gengivet hos Thiele I, p. 133.




A1 Bacchus og Ariadne, 1798, inv.nr. A1
A225 Tyge Rothe, 1797, inv.nr. A225


  1. Latin for “in remembrance”, used to recall oneself to somebody. The expression was originally a polite introduction in letters to persons of a higher rank, often civil servants. Gradually it was also used more generally in letters to or from officials, often written in one word. The expression appears frequently in the more formal letters in the Archive.

  2. Thorvaldsen’s group Bacchus and Ariadne, A1, executed 1797-98.

  3. Thorvaldsen’s marble bust of Tyge Rothe, A225.

  4. In the summer of 1798 Thorvaldsen sent a crate to Copenhagen via Leghorn. For various reasons the shipment was slow, and the professors of the Academy did not see Bacchus and Ariadne, A1, until 30.9.1799, while Nicolai Abildgaard kept the portrait bust of Tyge Rothe, A225, in his private residence, see his letter of 3.12.1799.
    See also the article Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1798 and 1802.

  5. The painter and professor at the Academy Nicolai Abildgaard.

  6. The exact nature of Thorvaldsen’s illness is not known. An “ague” may be either malaria or a more benign illness with bouts of fever.

  7. I.e. the clay model of the sculpture group.
    Although Thorvaldsen writes that the clay model of Bacchus and Ariadne had “started to fall down”, this is not immediately visble on the plaster original, A1.

Last updated 17.07.2017