Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Kunstakademiet, København

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Tilskrift: Til Det Kongelige Maler Billedhugger og Bygnings Academie

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.


Thorvaldsen reports to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts that he is still in Rome, and that he has sent some of his works to Copenhagen. The long journey to Italy, his illness and the war have made it difficult for him to work. He hopes that the Academy will prolong his scholarship beyond the first three years.


Rom d 3 Janua: 1799

Underdanigst Pro MemoriaI

I over endstemmelse med den mig af Det Kongelige Academie givende EnstruxII opholder ieg mig endnu i Rom hvor ieg har siøgt og siøger at høste alle de fordele i min Konst hvortil det mig bevillige StipendiumIII istansæetter mig, og ikke har manglet at tilsende Academiet af mit ArbeydeIV og agter snart igen at sende prøveV paa min Flid og Bestræbelse at giøre al mulig fremgan i Konsten. De tre AarVI paa hvilke Stipendiumet for det første blev mig til kiendt er nu snart omme, og hvor stor end min flid i den Tiid haver været, har dog Reisen Sygdom og Tidernes uroligheder været betydelige Hindringer for min Bestemmelse, saa ieg for at opnaae min Reise øimed t[r]ænger til den udsettelse som de pleier at nyde der Reiser paa Academies Bekosning og derfor tager mig den Frihed at anholde om sammeVII. At en udsettelse vil bringe mig Dobbelt nytte indser Academiet Selv, og da des Elever Fremgan er Hensigten af Reise Stipendiummet saa smiger ieg mig med det Haab om denne min underdanigste Begerrings Opfyldelse

B. Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, January 3rd, 1799

Most humble Pro Memoria.

In accordance with the instruction given to me by the Academy of Fine Arts I am still staying in Rome, where I have sought and seek to gain all the good points in my art which my scholarship enables me to and I have not omitted to send pieces of my work to the Academy and intend soon again to send a sample of my diligence and endeavour to make all possible progress in the art. The three years for which the scholarship in the first place was awarded me are soon over, and no matter how great my diligence has been during that time the journey, ill-health, and the turbulence of the times have been considerable obstacles to my purpose so that in order to achieve the object of my journey I need the extension, which the ones usually enjoy who are travelling at the Academy’s expense and so I take the liberty to apply for the same. The Academy itself realizes that an extension will give me double benefit, and as the progress of its students is the purpose of the travelling scholarship I indulge in the hope of the fulfilment of my most humble application.

Most humbly,
B. Thorvaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

Regarding receipt of this letter, the journal of the Academy of Fine Arts (The Danish National Archives, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, Dagbog) dated 25.2.1799 reads: “From the student Thorvaldsen in Rome, a letter arrived in which he applied for a prolongation as the first three years granted to him would soon expire, his application was primarily based on the works which he has sent home as samples of his diligence and his progress, which the Academy, however, has not yet received probably due to the uncertainty of shipping: It was resolved to grant him a prolongation of one year.”
This one-year prolongation was communicated to Thorvaldsen in a letter of 19.3.1799.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Rigsarkivet, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, journalsager, 1799, II, nr. 1.


Thiele I, p. 135-136.



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. See the instruction of 23.8.1796 from the Academy to Thorvaldsen, according to which Thorvaldsen was to send a report every six months and also samples of his work to the Academy.

  3. I.e. the travelling scholarship to which Thorvaldsen was entitled when he won the large gold medal of the Academy, F35, in 1793, see Thorvaldsen-Chronology.

  4. In the summer of 1798 Thorvaldsen sent a crate to Denmark with, among other things, Bacchus and Ariadne, A1, and the portrait bust of Tyge Rothe, A225.
    At this time, the crate had actually arrived in Copenhagen but remained unopened at the custom house. The works were not shown to the professors at the Academy until 30.9.1799, cf. Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1798 and 1802.

  5. In the spring of 1800 Thorvaldsen sent another couple of crates to Copenhagen, but for various reasons they did not arrive until the end of 1802, cf. the article Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1798 and 1802.

  6. The common practice used to be that history painters, sculptors, and architects travelled for six years. See F. Meldahl & P. Johansen: Det kongelige Akademi for skjønne Kunster, 1700-1904, Copenhagen 1904, supplement XXV (Regulation of 21.6.1771). In July 1790, however, the King had approved a proposal from Abildgaard to limit the period of travels abroad to three years and only to grant a prolongation to four, five, or six years “when the student abroad through unusual talent, combined with continuous diligence gave reason to hope that he would to achieve a high degree of perfection in his art”, ibid., p. 105.
    The prolongation Thorvaldsen asked of the Academy was usually granted.

  7. The scholarship was initially prolonged for only one year as the Academy of Fine Arts had not yet had the opportunity to evaluate the works Thorvaldsen had sent home, see letter of 19.3.1799 and the general commentary.

Last updated 09.02.2016