Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Sophie Amalie Kurtzhals

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Da der er tale om en tegning, som formentlig er blevet personligt overleveret, er der ingen udskrift. Tilskriften lyder, jf. det også i brevteksten gengivne: Til Jomfrue / Sophie Amalia / Kurtzhals.

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af tegningen.


Thorvaldsens sends an excerpt from a poem by the poet Baggesen to Sophie Amalie Kurtzhals.


Til Jomfrue
Sophie Amalia

Svage SkialdI om Farver ikke Leder
Til en Engel Her at Male Dig
Som Trods Støvets Ufuldkommenheder
Her Veninde Var Umalelig
Tænk dig Hende Her, og Tænk den Samme
Klædt i Salighedens Lyse Flamme

  d 1 Januarii 1794   B. Thorvaldsen  

Oversættelse af dokument

To Miss
Sophie Amalia

Weak bard of colours does not lead
To an angel here to paint you
Who despite dust’s imperfections
Here my friend was un paintable
Imagine her here, and imagine the same
Dressed in salvation’s light flame

1st January. 1794   B. Thorvaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

Concerning the relationship between Thorvaldsen and his early love Sophie Amalie Kurtzhals, see her biography. There exists another letter between the two, dated 2.[??].1794. There are also two letters from her family. One is a cordial letter of 26.11.1824 from Kurtzhals’ brother, Niels Schønberg Kurtzhals, who sends greetings from “my brother-in-law and sister”, probably Sophie Amalie and her husband. The other is a letter of 8.5.1841 from the brother’s widow, Cathrine Elisabeth Kurtzhals. These letters show that Thorvaldsen had maintained friendly relations with the family.

The text of the greeting is the fourth stanza of the poem Aabenbarelsen (The Revelation) by Jens Baggesen. The text appears as an inscription on the watercolour, Dep.19.
The text is part of the subject of the watercolour. It shows a winged female figure, undoubtedly an illustration of the “angel” of the poem, standing in front of a pedestal, on which the stanza of the poem by Baggesen is written. The angel points to the text but also to heaven, while bashfully turning her head away from the pedestal. The inscription Til Jomfrue Sophie Amalia Kurtzhals appears on the pedestal. The whole scene is set in an idyllic landscape.

The stanza chosen seems to emphasize Thorvaldsen’s close relationship with Kurtzhals. The poem, which is about the poet’s meeting with a dead lover, tells how the woman in the shape of an angel urges the poet to forget his grief but not her, and that passion is the best means to overcome this grief. Thorvaldsen has chosen the stanza in which the poet is changed into a painter of the spirit but still refers to the flame of bliss. This bliss, as the poet later indicates, can be obtained through the fire of passion: To comfort grief, relieve misery / The fire of passion was from Heaven sent; / And its pure, strong, straight flames / Purify the souls to bliss. / All the blessed watch in delight / The flame of two rapt mortals.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

Dep.19 (Deponeret på Thorvaldsens Museum af Københavns Museum)


Ikke omtalt hos Thiele.

Other references



Dep Albumblad til jomfru Kurtzhals, 1794, inv.nr. Dep.19


  1. Here Thorvaldsen quotes the fourth stanza of Jens Baggesen’s poem Aabenbarelsen (The Revelation), first printed in Hans Wilh. Riber (ed.), Samling af Poesier, Copenhagen1788, entitled Elegie. Til en Veninde i hendes Stambog. See also the general commentary.

Last updated 09.02.2015