Nicolai Abildgaard

Sender’s Location


Information on sender

Rester af laksegl.


Bertel Thorvaldsen

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Udskrift: All’ Illmo Sig’re / Il Sigre Thorwaldsen / Scultore Danese / in / Roma

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.


Abildgaard recommends the bearer of the letter, Carl Christian Seydewitz, to Thorvaldsen. He commissions a portrait bust in marble of Jacob Baden, A863, sending a death mask and a painted portrait as models.


Kiøbenhavn 29de Dec. 1804.

Gode Ven!

Jeg kan icke unlade ved denne leilighed at sende Dem nogle Linier, og det saa neget mere, da overbringeren, som er Her Leutenant SeidewitzI, som KronprindsenII lader reise, for at blive Historie MalerIII har anmodet mig her om, overtydet om at De kan og vil give ham den beste veiledning, og som ieg icke tvivler paa han paa skiønner.
Ved denne leilighed sender ieg Dem en Masquer og et Malet Portrait af afdøde Prof: BadenIV, om De der efter kunde giøre en Buste i Marmor omtrent [tegningV] uden Krop og Klæder som en TermeVI og lade mig hvideVII, hvad den skal koste, saa vil ieg sørge for at De bliver betalt. Lever De vel, som ieg haaber, skal det ingen glæde mere end


ærlige Ven

Oversættelse af dokument

Copenhagen, December 29th 1804

Good friend,

At this opportunity I cannot omit to send you a couple of lines, the more so as the bearer, who is lieutenant Seidewitz, has asked me to. He is convinced that you are able to and will give him the best supervision, which I do not doubt that he will appreciate. The Crown Prince permits him to travel to become a history painter.
On this occasion I send you a death mask and a painted portrait of the late professor Baden if you from that could make a bust in marble more or less [a drawing] without body and clothes more like a herma and let me know what it will cost, then I shall see to your getting paid. If you are healthy as I hope, it shall please nobody more than


true friend,

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

The letter contains Abildgaard’s rough sketch for the bust of Jacob Baden. The drawing of the bust measures ca. 1,5×1 cm, see it here.

Archival Reference

m1 1804, nr. 25


Ikke gengivet hos Thiele.

Other references




A863 Jacob Baden, 1806, inv.nr. A863
A802 Jacob Baden, 1806, inv.nr. A802
L662 Jacob Baden, dødsmaske, 1804, inv.nr. L662


  1. The Danish officer and painter Carl Christian Seydewitz, who was on a study tour.

  2. Crown Prince Frederik (6.).

  3. The project was to some extent successful: Today Seydewitz is known for his flower paintings and his religious paintings in a style inspired by Raphael, which seems to indicate that Thorvaldsen played a certain role in the “supervision” that Abildgaard here asks the sculptor to give him.

  4. The Danish linguist and critic Jacob Baden, who died 5.6.1804. The mask mentioned here is a death mask, which today is in the collection of death masks at Thorvaldsens Museum, L662.
    Note that this is not the one that Johannes V. Jensen, op. cit., has identified as Baden. His mask has here been numbered 9, but the correct one is no. 20, which Jensen calls unknown.
    The painting brought by Seydewitz may have been C.A. Lorentzens portrait of Baden, the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg, inv.nr. A2916. The painting shows signs of having been folded during the long journey.
    It was not unusual to produce portrait bust on the basis of sources. The bust of Mathias Saxtorph, cf. A899, e.g. was produced on the basis of a copperplate engraving, see the related article about this.
    Regarding the bust Jacob Baden, A863, and its making, see Else Kai Sass: Thorvaldsens Portrætbuster, Copenhagen 1963-65, vol. I, p. 141-146.

  5. See a photograph of Abildgaard’s sketch here.

  6. The little sketch in the letter shows that Abildgaard wants a bust of Baden in Hermaean form (“like a Herma”) like the busts of Tyge Rothe, A225, A.P. Bernstorff, A207 and Raphael, A752, which Thorvaldsen had sent to Copenhagen, see Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1798 and 1802.
    Based on the above-mentioned death mask and painting, Thorvaldsen executed the portrait of Jacob Baden, A863 c. 1806. The plaster original has disappeared, but a plaster bust of a smaller size, A802, which is thought to represent Jacob Baden, may have been a model for the larger marble Herma.
    Abildgaard originally commissioned the bust on behalf of Baden’s widow, Sophie Louise Charlotte, née Klenow (1740-1824). However, she died before the bust reached Copenhagen in 1825, after which it passed to the Baden family, cf. no. 49 on the list dated 2.7.1825 of works sent from Leghorn to Copenhagen. Thorvaldsens Museum acquired the portrait in 1924 from the Baden family.
    See Else Kai Sass: Thorvaldsens Portrætbuster, Copenhagen 1963-65, vol. I, p. 141-146.

  7. Thorvaldsen answered Abildgaard’s inquiry in his next letter dated 28.7.1805.

Last updated 16.02.2018