24.10.1800

Sender

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location

Rom

Recipient

Nicolai Abildgaard

Recipient’s Location

København

Information on recipient

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

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.

Abstract

Thorvaldsen reports that the transportation of two crates with artworks bound for the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts has encountered inexplicable difficulties in Leghorn. He intends to send more works but is waiting for favourable conditions.
He regrets that he cannot afford to purchase three volumes of the collection of the Vatican for Abildgaard. He asks him to accept a volume with engravings of Raphael’s tapestries as a gift. He is annoyed that an album drawing has given him a bad reputation but is grateful for Abildgaard’s goodwill towards him.

Document

Rom den 24de October 1800

Gode Her JusticeRaad!

Efter at have havt den Fornøielse at imodtage Deres Brev af den 21de JuliII, skrev ieg strax til KommissionærenIII i Livorno og bad ham ifald mine to Kasser som ieg skikkede ham i Foraaret under Deres adresse endnu var der, at skikke dem til Kiøbenhavn med Fregatten TritonIV, om den skulde indløbe i Livorno, vis ikke at skikke dem med den første den beste Leilighed og kun at lade mig vide i hvad Havn Fregatten var indløben for at kunde skikke det ArbeidV som ieg nu har ferdig til Academiet, og som ieg ligeledes vil addressere til Dem. Som ieg hidendtil ikke har bekommet Svar derpaa, har ieg indtil nu opsat at besvare Deres Brev forventende tillige at kunde melde at ieg havde giordt Brug af den Leilighed med Fregatten som Her Capitain BergerVI der komanderer samme har været saa god at tilbyde Dem. Alerede førend ieg bekom Deres Brev havde ieg tænkt paa en Maade for at kunde skikke noget af mine Arbeider med et af vore Krigs Skibbe, og Doter ScheelVII fra Kiøbenhavn som ophold sig en kort Tiid her, havde lovet mig at han vilde paa sin tilbage Reise proponere det til Hr Kammerherre BilleVIII som [han] kiendte. Men siden skrev han mig tilIX at Bille var taget med FregattenX fra Livorno førend han kom dertil Alsaa maa ieg oppebie til ieg erfare hvor Capitain Berger er indløbenXI eller en anden sikker Leilighed hvormed ieg kan skikke de Arbeider som ieg har ommeldt i mit Brev til AcademietXII, hvoriblant Raphaels BusteXIII i Marmor som JusticeRaaden har bedet mig om.
De tre Tommer Museo Pio ClementinoXIV som JusticeRaaden ønsker at have, var nu den beste Tiid at kiøbe. Da ieg er sikker paa at faa dem for bedre Kiøb indsom ellers, for alle søger at sælge og her er paa nærværrende Tiid ingen som kiøberXV, den Samling af Raphaels TapeterXVI fornøir mig at have tient JusticeRaaden: ieg skal let kund forskaffe mig et anden Exemplar. Jeg beklager ikkun at ieg ikke er istand til at kiøbe 3de 5te og 6te Del af Museo Pio Clementino som De mangler. Meget ondt har det giort mig at see af Deres Brev at ieg beskyldes for ikke at være flittig og at en StambogXVII har givet Anledning dertil da ieg ofte i Hast og uden Lyst har henkradset noget i forskillige Stambøger. Det skal lære mig herefter at vogte mig for at tegne i Stambøger naar ieg ikke finder mig disponnert til at giøre det med Fliid. Hvad der beroliger mig er at ieg er flittig og at JusticeRaaden har den samme Godhed for mig som før og samme Iver til at befordre mit Vel, hvilket er mig mere matpaaliggende end alt andet, og saaledes henlever Deres hengivende

B.Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, October 24th 1800

Sir, Counsellor,

Having had the pleasure of receiving your letter of July 21st I immediately wrote to the commissary in Leghorn and asked of him that if the two crates which I sent him in spring for your address were still there to send them to Copenhagen by the frigate Triton if it were to enter Leghorn, if not, to send them by the first and best opportunity and merely to let me know which harbour the frigate had entered to be able to send the work which I have now finished for the Academy and which I likewise will address to you. As I hitherto have not received an aswer to this I have up to now put off answering your letter expecting to be able to tell as well that I had availed myself of the opportunity with the frigate which Captain Berger who commands it has been so good as to offer you. Already before I received your letter I had thought of a way to be able to send some of my works by one of our warships, and Doctor Scheel from Copenhagen who stayed here for a short while had promised me that on his way back he would suggest it to Sir Bille, the chamberlain, whom he knew. But later he wrote to me that Sir Bille had left with the frigate from Leghorn before he arrived there. So I must wait till I learn where Captain Berger has entered or for some other safe opportunity by which I can send the works which I have mentioned in my letter to the Academy, among which is Raphael’s bust in marble which the Counsellor has asked me for.
It was now the best time to buy the three volumes Museo Pio Clementino which the Counsellor wants to have. For I am certain to make a better bargain than usual, for everybody attempts to sell and at the present time nobody buys it is a pleasure to oblige the Counsellor with the collection of Raphael’s wallpapers: I shall easily be able to procure another copy. I merely regret not being able to buy the 3rd, 5th and 6th volumes of Museo Pio Clementino which you lack. It has given me much pain to see from your letter that I am accused of not being diligent and that an album has given cause for this as I often in haste and without inclination have dashed down something in various albums. This shall teach me hereafter to beware of drawing in albums when I do not feel up to doing it with diligence. What reassures me is that I am diligent and that the Counsellor has the same kindness to me as before and the same anxiety to promote my welfare, which is more important to me than anything, and so I spend my time,

Yours very sincerely,
B. Thorvaldsen


[Translated by Karen Husum]

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

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

Thiele

Gengivet af Thiele I, p. 161-162

Subjects

Persons

Works

A52 Jason med det gyldne skind, 1802-1803, inv.nr. A52
A759 Agrippa, 1799-1800, inv.nr. A759
A760 Cicero, 1799-1800, inv.nr. A760
A761 Cicero, 1799-1800, inv.nr. A761
A752 Rafael, 1800, inv.nr. A752

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 21.7.1800.

  3. Most likely the shipping agency of Jaume & Schwarz, to whom Thorvaldsen had sent two crates addressed to Abildgaard, as appears below. See also the related article about Transportation of Crates.

  4. In his letter of 21.7.1800, Abildgaard suggested having Thorvaldsen’s two crates transported on board the Danish frigate Triton

  5. In his letter to the Academy of Fine Arts of the same date, Thorvaldsen mentions that he had planned to send his latest works to Copenhagen, viz. Goddess of Peace (later destroyed, see Lost Works) and two marble busts of Cicero, A760 or A761, and Agrippa, A759.

  6. The Danish naval officer Johan Hartvig Ernst von Berger.

  7. Doctor Poul Scheel from Holstein was in Rome at the beginning of 1800.

  8. The Danish naval officer Steen Bille, who was commander of a Danish fleet in the Mediterranean 1797-1800. See letter of 10.4.1800 from Poul Scheel, in which he promises Thorvaldsen to contact Captain Bille at Leghorn.
    Bille’s departure from Copenhagen is mentioned in Gotskalk Thorvaldsen’s brev of 8.5.1797.

  9. This letter from Poul Scheel has not been preserved.
    See letter 10.4.1800 from Poul Scheel, in which he promises Thorvaldsen to contact Captain Bille or some other officer on his arrival at Leghorn, in order to have Thorvaldsen’s crates transported safely to Copenhagen on board a frigate.

  10. Probably the frigate Najaden (The Naiad), which arrived in the Mediterranean in the spring of 1797 under Bille’s command in order to relieve the Thetis, a couple of months after Thorvaldsen had disembarked.

  11. It was not possible for Thorvaldsen to have his crates transported on board the frigate Triton under the command of Captain Berger until the beginning of 1802.
    The frigate was anchored in the roads of Leghorn from 23.11.1800 (cf. T.A. Topsøe-Jensen and Emil Marquard: Officerer i Den Dansk-Norske Søetat 1814-1932, Copenhagen 1935, vol. I, p. 98). In letter of 20.1.1802 Berger wrote to Thorvaldsen that the crates should be sent to Leghorn as soon as possible. Thorvaldsen wrote back, presumably Beginning of February 1802, that the crates were already with the Danish consul Ulrich. at Leghorn.
    The crates were then shipped off on board the frigate Triton in the spring of 1802, see the related article Transportation of Crates.

  12. In letter of 24.10.1800 to the Academy of Fine Arts, Thorvaldsen announced that at the first opportunity he would send home a number of works, namely: The statue Goddess of Peace (now destroyed), and the marble busts of Agrippa, A759, and Cicero, A760 or A761. Other works were added, among them the bust of Raphael, A752, mentioned by Thorvaldsen below. The Goddess of Peace, however, was never sent home.
    The crates with the works were not sent until the spring of 1802 and arrived in Copenhagen in December of that year, but they were only brought to Abildgaard’s attention one year later, see the related article about Transportation of Crates.

  13. Thorvaldsen’s bust of Raphael, A752, which is a free version of a bust by the sculptor Pietro Paolo Baldini (also known as Naldini, ca. 1605-1650), erected on Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon, moved in 1820 to La Protomoteca Capitolina, Rome.
    Abildgaard had asked Thorvaldsen to make the copy of the bust in letter of 3.12.1799.

  14. In letter of 3.12.1799, Abildgaard asked Thorvaldsen to buy 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).

  15. Living costs in Rome were high in 1800, see Thorvaldsen’s letter of 4.4.1800 to Abildgaard: ”...for all as to victuals is four times more expensive than it has ever been…”
    Cf. also Thiele I, p. 164.

  16. A folio with engravings of Raphael’s tapestries in the Vatican, which Thorvaldsen had sent home in 1798: Les celèbres Tapisseries de Raphaël d’Urbin au Vatican à Rome, gravées par Louis Sommerau, nos. 1-20, Rome 1780, and which Abildgaard asked if he could buy in letter of 21.7.1800.
    As the work is still in Thorvaldsen’s library, M315, he must have acquired another copy for himself later, as he mentions below.

  17. In his letter of 21.7.1800, Abildgaard mentions an album, in which Thorvaldsen was said to have made a drawing, but Abildgaard does not say whose album it was.
    It has not been possible to identify this album, but in his biography of the sculptor, the historian H.F.J. Estrup records a story which has a certain bearing on the rumour about Thorvaldsen’s lack of diligence: “A foreign visitor, who he [Thorvaldsen] thinks is the Swede Åckerbladt told Abildgaard that Thorvaldsen did nothing in Rome and thus caused him a reprimand.”
    Åckerbladt is identical with the Swedish diplomat and orientalist Johan David Åkerblad. He was in Rome in 1798-99. Among his papers in the Royal Library in Stockholm there is no album, as mentioned in the letter, but there is a list of artists in Rome with the following words about Thorvaldsen: “Thorwaldsen Danese fa niente”.
    So, the album mentioned is not known, but Åkerblad might have seen an album with a Thorvaldsen drawing so uninspired that it resulted in criticism of Thorvaldsen’s work.

Last updated 10.01.2018