Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Kunstakademiet, København

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Udskrift: A L’academie Royale de Peinture, Sculpture et architecture à Copenhague Franco TrentoI.
Tilskrift: Til Det Kongelige Maler Billedhugger og Bygnings Academie

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.


Thorvaldsen is delighted that the work he has sent to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts has won its approval. He promises to send more works and expresses his gratitude for the prolongation of his travelling scholarship for another two years. He wishes to remain in Rome as long as he can, but if the turbulent times should force him to leave the city, he requests that the part of the scholarship intended for his home journey should be transferred as soon as possible. He plans to travel via Paris.


Rom den 4de April 1800

Underdanigst Pro MemoriaII

Af den fra det Kongelige Academie erholdte SkrivelseIII har ieg med stor Glæde seet den Godhed hvor med Academiet har anseet mit ArbeideIV, som har opmuntert mig til endnu større flid og Bestræbelse efter at opnaae den fulkommenhed som mine evner tillader, saa ieg snart igen haaber at vise Academiet nyer prøverV paa min fremgang. Jeg skylder Academiet den ærbødigst Taksigelse for mit Reise Stipendiums udsættelseVI og for den gunstige Resolution at det eene Aars Stipendium kan vorde avanceret i hvad TerminerVII ieg kunde behøve det, men maa nu tillige anholde om at dette sidst maatte saa snart som mueligt blive min BanquierVIII her anbefalet, saa ieg i en hver Tiid kunde være beredt paa at forlade Rom naar Omstændighederne skulde udfordre det. Jeg ønsker at blive her saa længe som muligst, men da fremmede har alerede ofte været forfølgelseIX underkastet, og kan letteligen paa nye være det i fremtiiden! ogsaa kunde ieg ved Tabet af et Brev komme i forlegenhed, Dersom denne Sag ikke i forv[e]ien var fuldkommen afgiort. Dersom omstændighederneX tillader det saa er Haab og Ønske enstemmende med Academies at ieg paa min Hiemreise kunde opholde mig noget i ParisXI.
og saaledes henlever Academies underdanigst

B. Thorwaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, April 4th 1800

Most humble Pro Memoria,

From the letter received from the Academy I have seen with great pleasure the kindness with which the Academy has considered my work, which has encouraged me to even greater diligence and endeavour to obtain the perfection which my gifts permit so that soon I hope again to show the Academy new proofs of my progress. I owe the Academy the most respectful thanks for the prolongation of my travelling scholarship and for the favourable decision that the one year’s scholarship may be advanced at what dates I might need it, but must now furthermore apply for permission that the latter as soon as possible may be commended to my banker here, so that I at any time may be prepared to leave Rome when circumstances should demand it. I wish to stay here as long as possible, but as foreigners have often already been subjected to harassment and may easily be so in future I also might get into difficulties by the loss of a letter, if this matter has not been fully settled in advance.
If circumstances will permit it hope and wish are in agreement with the Academy’s that on my home journey I could stay some time in Paris.
And so the most humble of the Academy spends his time,

B. Thorvaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

Regarding receipt of this letter, the journal of the Academy of Fine Arts of 4.4.1800 (The Danish National Archives, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen) reads: “Letter arrived from the pensioner Thorvaldsen dated Rome April 4th 1800”; then the letter is quoted in full.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Rigsarkivet, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, journalsager, 1800, II, nr. 7.


Gengivet hos Thiele I, p. 149-150.




A1 Bacchus og Ariadne, 1798, inv.nr. A1


  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. 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.

  3. The letter is an answer to the letter of 3.12.1799 from the Academy of Fine Arts.

  4. At a meeting on 25.11.1799, the academy assembly had evaluated Thorvaldsen’s statuette Bacchus and Atiadne, A1, and expressed their satisfaction in the letter of 3.12.1799, see also Thorvaldsen- Chronology.

  5. According to the instructions of the Academy of 23.8.1796, Thorvaldsen had to send samples of his work home to Copenhagen. Recently, in March 1800, he had sent two crates to Leghorn, addressed to Nicolai Abildgaard, see letter of 4.4.1800 to the latter. Due to unfortunate circumstances, these two crates were delayed and did not arrive in Copenhagen until 1802, see the related article about Transportation of Crates.

  6. In letter of 3.12.1799 the Academy had granted Thorvaldsen the remaining two years of his travelling scholarship.

  7. In letter of 3.12.1799 the Academy of Fine Arts had given Thorvaldsen the possibility to choose how the last year’s scholarship, intended for the return journey, was to be paid.
    As seen below, Thorvaldsen asked for the whole amount to be transferred to his Roman banker, Domenico Lavaggi, since it might be necessary for him to leave Rome quickly because of the war.
    However, the Academy did not immediately do as Thorvaldsen asked. The scholarship for the last year was not paid until the autumn of 1801, see letter of 4.10.1801 from Abildgaard to Thorvaldsen.

  8. The Roman banker Domenico Lavaggi, who, in a statement of 7.1.1801 addressed “To Whom It May Concern”, confirmed that he received Thorvaldsen’s scholarships.
    Lavaggi was also, at least in one case, used as a Poste Restante address, see letter of 21.7.1800 from Abildgaard.

  9. It is not known what kind of harassment of foreigners in Rome Thorvaldsen is referring to, but during the very troubled period around 1799-1800, when Rome was captured and recaptured by French and Neapolitan troops, foreigners might easily appear suspicious to successive rulers.

  10. At this time, life in Rome was very unsettled. During the last months of 1799, the Neapolitans and the French had taken turns at capturing Rome, see Thorvaldsen-Chronology. Thorvaldsen’s request to have his travelling funds paid so that they would be ready if a speedy departure became necessary was, in other words, quite reasonable.

  11. In a letter of 3.12.1799, the Academy of Fine Arts had recommended Thorvaldsen to visit Paris on his way home.

Last updated 09.02.2016