30.1.1807

Sender

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location

Rom

Recipient

Herman Schubart

Recipient’s Location

Pisa

Information on recipient

Udskrift: À Monsieur / Monsieur le Baron de Schubart / Chevalier de l’Ordre de Dannebrogue / Chambellan de S.M. Danoise, son / Ministre plenipontenteaire et / Intendant général de Commerce / Danois en Italie / à / Pisa

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.

Abstract

Thorvaldsen thanks Schubart for a bill of exchange. He has had financial problems because the war has put a stop to foreign commissions. The busts of A.P. Bernstorff, A207, Jacqueline Schubart, A220, and Herman Schubart, A219 have been completed. The last two have been cast in plaster. The Dance of the Muses on Helikon, A705, is half finished, and the carving of Baptismal Font will soon begin. He suggests some changes for this. He has carved Psyche, A821, in marble and has begun modelling Hebe, A37. After that he will start Cupid Holding a Butterfly to Hurt it with an Arrow, while Jason, A822, is far advanced.
Thorvaldsen’s health is good. During the coming year he will finish his commissions and then return to Denmark. He is pleased that the drawing he sent to Schubart, Bacchus Offering Cupid a Drink, C715, pleased him.

Document

Rom d: 30e. Januari 1807

Deres Eccellenza! Det er for mig ubeskribelig den Glæde jeg har følet ved at igiennemlæse Deres kiære Breve af 9de og 16 JanuariI, da jeg deraf seer at De og Deres naadige Frue GemalindeII befinder Dem frisk og vel, og med Deres sædvanlige Godhed at have mig i Deres venskabelige Erindring som er mig saare Dyrebart.
Jeg takker Deres Eccellenza ærbødigst for den VexelIII paa Sigr PappianiIV som jeg var indkarssert og som iust kom mig tilpas saasom mine Finansser er paa nærværende tid meget maaadelige, da mine største Arbejder er for England Rusland og KurlandV, som KrigenVI forhindrer at disse FolkVII ikke kan sendte mig Penge til rette tiid, og derfor er ofte i yderlig Forlægenhed. saa jeg er Dem meget forbunden for Deres Gode tilbud at kunde henvende mig til Dem naar jeg igen skulde komme i forlægenhed. jeg har ennu ikke andet af Deres Arbejder ganske færdig uden de tre BysterVIII hvo[r]af jeg efter Deres forlangende har ladet forme de to, og af ethvær 3 afstøbningerIX som De vil have den Godhed at lade mig vide til hvem jeg skal levere demX. Bas riliefet med MusserneXI er halv færdig, og DaabenXII begyndes paa en af disse Dage, dersom det tillades mig at anvende noget mere der paa saa ønskede jeg at giøre to bas rilieve et til hver side paa PiedestallenXIII, som kunde forestille en Gruppe der vilde følge Kristos exempel og bereder sig til at lade sig Døbe af JohannesXIV, paa den anden side en Gruppe af EnlerXV som fryder sig ved denne Høytid, saa den bageste Side alene blev glat til inskribsionXVI, jeg vil nu forferdige den forderste side, saa der er tiid nok til at kunde bestemme om de andre to Sider skulle giøres eller ikke. Di Arbejder som jeg ikke tror at have underrette Deres Eccellenza om er meget lidet, dog det meste har jeg arbejdet i Marmor, og giord en liden Figure forstillende PsycheXVII, og arbejder nu paa Gudinden HebeXVIII for Kammerjunker BielkeXIX, og derefter skal jeg giøre en AmorXX, saa er jeg færdig med at modellere de hos mig bestilte Arbejder, min JasonXXI er temelig avansert saa jeg haaber inden et Aars forløb at see mine Arbejder fulendteXXII
Det lidet Liv og Helbred som jeg ennu har og som jeg har Deres Eccellenzes venskabelige Omhu og Sunte Luft paa det yndige MonteneroXXIII at takke forXXIV gaar det mig Gudskelov temmelig vel med. Det er mig smerteful at formode ikke at kunde profetere af Deres gode enbydelseXXV til neste Sommer, da jeg maa overlekkeXXVI, den Summa jeg ennu har at hæve paa minne Arbejder ikke er meget stor og udgifterne for at bestride Samme er betydelig, saa jeg ikke maa forsømme tiid dersom jeg skal komme redelig og æreful [ud]XXVII af det, og alsaa maa nødes til at opsette denne G[læde?]XXVIII til bedre udsigter, eller til min tilbage RejseXXIX.
At Tegning[en]XXX jeg skikede til Fødselfestene har fornø[i]et Dem, er mig usigelig kjært, da det er den eeneste Pris som jeg setter derpaaXXXI. Vi havde en Glad aften i den 14 Januari hos Hr MattheiXXXII, jeg har drukke paa Deres Eccellenzes Sunhed med et oprigtig Hjerte Hvormed ieg forbliver Deres Eccellenzes

underdanigste Tiener
B. Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, January 30th 1807

Sir, Your Excellency, I have felt an indescribable joy at reading your dear letters of January 9th and 16th, as I see from them that you and your gracious wife are well and hearty and that you with you usual kindness have me in your friendly memory which is very precious to me.
I deferentially thank Your Excellency for the bill of exchange on Signor Pappiani which I have collected and which came just at the right moment as my finances at present are rather poor, as my biggest works are for England, Russia and Courland, where the war prevents these people so they cannot send me money on time, and so I am often in extreme difficulties. So I am very grateful to you for the kind offer that I may apply to you should I again get into difficulties. I have not yet quite finished more of your works but the three busts of which according to your demand I have had two formed, and 3 casts made of each which you please will be as kind as to let me know to whom I shall deliver. The bas-relief with the Muses is half-finished and the Baptism will be started one of these days, if I am allowed to spend some more on that, I should wish to make two bas-reliefs one on either side of the pedestal, which might represent a group [of people] who want to follow Christ’s example and prepare themselves to be baptized by John, on the other side a group of angels who rejoice at this festival, so that only the back side would be smooth for inscription, I will now make the front, so there is enough time to decide whether the other two sides shall be made or not. There are very few works, which I do not think I have informed Your Excellency about, but I have mostly worked in marble, and made a small figure representing Psyche, and am now working at the goddess Hebe for Mr Bielke, Groom in Waiting, and after that I am going to make a Cupid, then I have finished modelling the works commissioned from me, my Jason is fairly advanced so I hope to see my works completed within a year.
What life and health I still have is luckily in a rather good state. For this I can thank Your Excellency’s friendly solicitude and the healthy air at the lovely Montenero. It is painful to me to think that I can not profit from your kind invitation for next summer, as I must consider it, the sum I have still left to draw on my works is not very big and the expenses to perform the same are considerable, so I must not neglect time if i want it to be honest and honourable, and so I am pressed to postpone this pleasure for better prospects, or for my return journey.
It is unspeakably dear to me that the drawing I sent for the birthday party has pleased you, as it is the only price I charge. We made a night of it on January 14th at Mr Matthäi, I drank your health with a sincere heart with which I remain Your Excellency’s

Most humble servant
B. Thorvaldsen


[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

There exists a draft of the beginning of this letter. Even though the draft is not without spelling mistakes, it is clear that Thorvaldsen must have had help with the spelling and the wording of this letter.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Håndskriftafdelingen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, NBD XVII, 190.

Thiele

Omtalt hos Thiele II, p. 73, men ikke kendt af ham.

Subjects

Persons

Works

A822 Jason med det gyldne skind, 1803, inv.nr. A822
A12 Venus med æblet, 1813-1816, inv.nr. A12
A28 Amor og Psyche, ca 1807, inv.nr. A28
A2_ Bacchus, 1804, inv.nr. A2
A41 Ganymedes rækker skålen, 1804, inv.nr. A41
A3 Apollon, 1805, inv.nr. A3
A490 Briseis og Achilleus, 1803, inv.nr. A490
A207 A.P. Bernstorff, 1804, inv.nr. A207
A219 Herman Schubart, 1804, inv.nr. A219
A220 Jacqueline Schubart, 1804, inv.nr. A220
A705 Musernes dans på Helikon, 1806, inv.nr. A705
A555 Døbefont, Kristi dåb, 1805-1807, inv.nr. A555,1
A555 Døbefont, Tre svævende engle, 1805-1807, inv.nr. A555,3
A821 Psyche, 1806, inv.nr. A821
A37 Hebe, 1806, inv.nr. A37
C715 Bacchus giver Amor at drikke, 1806-1807, inv.nr. C715

Commentaries

  1. I.e. Schubart’s letters of 9.1.1807 and 16.1.1807.

  2. I.e. Jacqueline Schubart.

  3. The bill of exchange covered the “Gratification” which Thorvaldsen received 6.3.1804 from Fonden ad usus publicos.
    Thorvaldsen and Schubart had arranged that Schubart would withdraw the money on the sculptor’s behalf in Tuscany, probably because of a more advantageous rate of exchange there.
    As it appears here, however, Schubart kept the money a little longer, see more about this in ...the Only Price I Charge.
    Regarding bills of exchange, see more in the article about this.

  4. The Roman banker Domenico Pappiani.

  5. Thorvaldsen is referring to three of his commissions from the three countries: Jason and Hope’s Commission, Vorontsova’s Commission, and Ropp’s Commission 1804-05.

  6. I.e. the Napoleonic Wars, in which the so-called War of the Fourth Coalition was raging at this time.
    The countries mentioned, England, Russia, and Courland were all against France, which had occupied Italy so that communication with these countries was difficult.

  7. I.e. the people who had commissioned works, Thomas Hope, Irina Vorontsova and Theodor von der Ropp.

  8. I.e. Thorvaldsen’s busts of
    A.P. Bernstorff, A207, carved in marble 1804-March 1806,
    Jacqueline Schubart, A220, carved in marble August 1805-March 1806, and
    Herman Schubart, A219, carved in marble Summer 1805-March 1806.
    All three busts had been commissioned by the Schubarts.

  9. Schubart had asked for these plaster casts of his and his wife’s busts in his letter of 15.8.1806.

  10. In his next letter of 9.3.1807, Schubart answered that Thorvaldsen should discuss the matter with Schubart’s Roman banker Domenico Pappiani.

  11. Thorvaldsen’s relief, The Dance of the Muses on Helicon, A705.

  12. Thorvaldsen’s Baptismal Font, the marble version carved for Brahetrolleborg, cf. A555,1.
    The carving was completed 22.10.1808 at the latest.
    See more about the work in The Baptismal Font for Brahetrolleborg Church.

  13. The proposal Thorvaldsen makes here was realized, but in a somewhat different form: In the end, all sides of the baptismal font were decorated with reliefs:
    The Baptism of Christ, A555,1
    Mary with Jesus and John, A555,2
    Three Hovering Angels, A555,3 and
    Christ Blessing the Children, A555,4.
    See more about this in the Baptismal Font for Brahetrolleborg Church.

  14. This proposal was not realized, see the previous note.

  15. This was realized as Three Hovering Angels, A555,3, not on one of the sides but on the back.

  16. There was no inscription on the back of the Brahetrolleborg version of the Baptismal Font, but the relief of Three Hovering Angels, A555,3 instead.
    On the version of the Baptismal Font executed many years later, however, there was a Latin inscription. The translation reads:
    “In the year 1827 Albert Thorvaldsen executed this work in Rome and gave it in devotion to Iceland, his native country”.

  17. I.e. a marble version of Psyche, which has not been positively identified.
    It may be the statue which was commissioned 6.3.1806 by the Danish-German N.I. Stuhr, as suggested by Thiele II, p. 71. However, it is not known whether Stuhr – if indeed it was him – ever received the marble copy.
    Therefore, it could be that the marble version of Psyche remained in Thorvaldsen’s workshop and was later sold to the British Henry Philip Hope. This marble copy is now in Thorvaldsens Museum, A821.
    It could also be the marble copy of Psyche, which is in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, but that is an unproven hypothesis.
    In any case, this passage proves that Thorvaldsen carved a marble copy of Psyche during the winter of 1806-1807.

  18. I.e. Thorvaldsen’s Hebe, A37. It appears from the following sentence that Thorvaldsen was still modelling the figure, which continued until February 1807.

  19. I.e. the Danish naval officer and nobleman Johan Christian August Bielke, who had actually commissioned the statue on behalf of Baron Otto Reedtz-Thott.
    See more about this in “Otto Reedtz-Thott’s Commission of Hebe 1806”:/artikler/reedtz-thotts-bestilling-af-hebe.

  20. I.e. Cupid Holding a Butterfly to Hurt it with an Arrow, which was modelled during the spring of 1807.
    Today the work is only known from an “etching(Cupid and the Butterfly, marble statue now lost)”:/billeder/detaljer/30579. 20.8.1809 Thorvaldsen made a contract with Theodor von Hahn to execute a copy in marble.
    The statue had clearly been commissioned (in marble) as early as 1807, as Thorvaldsen writes here, but it is unclear whether it was an oral arrangement that he had made with von Hahn in 1806-1807, or whether some other, so far unidentified person had commissioned the work at this time.

  21. I.e. Thorvaldsen’s Jason, A822. Even though Thorvaldsen here writes that the statue is close to completion, this did not happen until 1828.
    See more about the commission of the statue in Jason and Hope’s Commission.

  22. At this time, Thorvaldsen’s plan was apparently to finish his commissions in Rome and then return to Denmark. Six months before he had informed Schubart of something similar in letter of 8.8.1806:
    ”...I shall try to finish my work as soon as possible and after that return to Copenhagen…”
    See also below, where the return journey is mentioned as a possibility.
    However, all this changed as more commissions were received, see more about this in Thorvaldsen’s Continuance in Rome.

  23. I.e. the Schubarts’ summer residence Montenero, ca 7 km south of Leghorn.

  24. Thorvaldsen apparently recovered from his serious illness 1803-04 during his stay at Montenero in July-September 1804.
    See more in Thorvaldsen’s Illness 1803-04.

  25. In his last letter of 9.1.1807, Schubart had invited Thorvaldsen to come to Montenero in the summer.
    As the sculptor here suggests, he did not accept the invitation.

  26. Dvs. overlægge, altså gennemtænke, overveje, se betydning 3.2. af overlægge i Ordbog over det danske Sprog.
    Fejlstavningen er en karakteristisk, fonetisk betinget ordblindefejl, se mere herom i Thorvaldsens tale- og skriftsprog.

  27. Papiret mangler her.

  28. Papiret mangler her.

  29. As is well known, Thorvaldsen did not go to Copenhagen in the years immediately after 1807.
    See more about this in Thorvaldsen’s Continuance in Rome.

  30. I.e. Thorvaldsen’s drawing Bacchus Offers Cupid a Drink, C715, which was sent to Schubart for his birthday 14.1.1807.
    See more in Drawings Presented to the Schubarts.

  31. This phrase was used as the titel of an article about the financial relationship between Schubart and Thorvaldsen. The relationship turned from slightly strained to worse. Read more in the article.

  32. I.e. the German painter Friedrich Matthäi, who Schubart had asked to arrange a celebration in Rome on his birthday 14.1.1807.
    These celebrations became a tradition, see more about this in Schubart’s biography.

Last updated 08.09.2015