7.2.1827

Sender

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location

Rom

Recipient

C.F. Hansen

Recipient’s Location

København

Information on recipient

Ingen udskrift.

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevudkastet.

Abstract

Thorvaldsen lists the works which will be ready to be sent to Denmark in the spring of 1827. Extra casts have been made in case of accidents during transport. Because of the Danish climate, Thorvaldsen suggests that the group with John the Baptist for the pediment of the church should be cast in bronze. He proposes replacing the four Evangelists for the portal with two sibyls and two prophets.

Document

d 7 Febra ioI

Tak gode Hr Conferenzraad for Deres venskabelige Skrivelse af 24 Nov forrige AarII, hvilken jeg med stor Fornøielse har modtaget, da ieg deraf seer, at De lever frisk og velIII, som altid vil glæde mig at høre.

At det har behaget H. M.IV at der til ForaaretV skal sendes en FregatVI til Livorno, for der at indskibe de af mig forfærdigede Arbeider, glæder mig meget, og jeg skal stræbe at benytte denne Leilighed saa godt som muligt. Af de til FruekirkeVII bestemte Figurer ere Christus og de tolv ApostlerVIII færdige til Afsendelse. Jeg har af disse taget to Afstøbninger, hvoraf den ene bliver her, at de ei, hvis nogen Ulykke skulde skee, ganske maatte tabes. Til Frontespidsen, forestillende Iohannes, der prædiker i ØrkenenIX, har jeg ogsaa Figurerne færdige. Disse var det min Mening burde støbes i Bronze, da denne er den eneste Materie, der i vort Clima kan udholde at staae i fri Luft, og da den ei alene kan støbes tynd, men og ved Stænger i Figurernes Ryg befæstede til Muren kan bringes saa vidt, at Massen næsten bærer sig selv, uden at tynge paa GesimsenX. Hver Figur kan støbes for en Priis af 2000 francs, hvilket de og næsten vilde koste, hvis de skulde forfærdiges af brændt Leer. – Min Mening om disse Figurer er det altsaa man ved MisforstaaelseXI har anvendt paa Apostlerne, hvilke jeg aldrig har tænkt burde forfærdiges af Metal.
Istedetfor de fire Evangelister i PortaletXII, hvor man blev nødt at repetereXIII Iohannes og Mathæuss Figurer, der alt ere fremstillede som ApostlerXIV mener jeg det var bedre at giøre to Sybiller og to ProphterXV, der maatte forudsættes at have spaaet Christi Komme. De vil maaske have den Godhed at lade mig vide Deres Mening desangaaende, før jeg begynder derpaaXVI. Til Christiansborg SlotXVII er ikke andet færdigt i Marmor, end de tvende CariatiderXVIII til Trongemakket. Frisen med de øvrige BestillingerXIX udarbeides imidlertid i Marmor af alle Kræfter.
Det vilde være mig særdeles smigrende, dersom mine arbeider kunde paa nogen Maade bidrage til at pryde Deres skiønne og smagfulde Bygninger.
Jeg beder at hilse Deres Elskværdige Familie, og alle de af vores fælles Venner og Bekiendtere, som De seer fra mig

Deres hengivne Ven

P.S. Naar Fregatten afgaaer fra Kiøbenhavn, beder jeg ei at forsømme denne Skiønne Lelighed at indskibe til mig de to BassorilieviXX, som jeg forfærdigede sidst da jeg var der;XXI ligeledes en Kasse med BøgerXXII, hvilken blev staaende i mine Værelser paa CharlottenborgXXIII. Vor fælles Ven Hr P MallingXXIV vil sikkert være saa god at besørge Dem det indskibet.

Oversættelse af dokument

February 7th io [1827]

Thank you, kind Konferenceråd for your friendly favour of November 24th last year, which I have received with grear pleasure, as I see from it that you are well and hearty, which it will always please me to hear.

It pleases me very much that His Majesty has pleased in spring to send a frigate to Leghorn, there to take on board the works made by me, and I shall strive to make the best possible use of this opportunity. Of the figures for the Church of Our Lady Christ and the twelve Apostles are ready to send off. I have taken two casts of these one of which will remain here, so if some accident should happen, they may not be completely lost. For the pediment presenting John preaching in the desert I also have finished the figures. In my opinion, these should be cast in bronze as this is the only substance, which can endure being in the open air, and as it can not only be cast thin, but it can by poles in the back of the figures, fastened to the wall be made, so that the mass almost carries itself without weighing on the cornice. Each figure may be cast at a price of 2.000 francs which they would almost cost, if they were to be finished in burnt clay. – By mistake my opinion about these figures has been applied to the Apostles, which I never have thought should be made of metal.
Instead of the four evangelists in the portal where it would be necessary to repeat the figures of John and Matthew, who always have been made as apostles I think it would be better to make two sibyls and two prophets, who might be assumed to have prophesied the coming of Christ. I wonder whether you will be as kind as to let me know your opinion about this, before I begin the work. For Christiansborg Palace nothing has been finished in marble but the two Caryatids for the throne chamber. The frieze with the other commissions is prepared in marble with a will in the meantime.
It would be very flattering to me if my works in any way might contribute to adorn your beautiful and tasteful buildings. I beg you to give my regards to your kind family and to all those of our mutual friends and acquaintances you may see.

Your faithful friend,

P.S. When the frigat leaves Copenhagen I ask you not to miss this perfect opportunity to put on board for me the two bas-reliefs which I executed when I was there last; also a box with books, which was left in my rooms at Charlottenborg. Our mutual friend Mr P Malling will certainly be as kind as to attend to the shipment for you.



[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

There exist three more drafts written by Thorvaldsen himself. They are all more unfinished than this draft corrected by the copyist, and therefore they probably represent earlier stages in the writing process. One written in Thorvaldsen’s own hand is more sketchy than the other, while a third is just a fragment of the beginning of the letter.
See the related articles Thorvaldsen’s Letter Writing Process and Thorvaldsen’s Spoken and Written Language.

See also the related article Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1828 for a detailed list of the works which were included in the shipment and other facts concerning the transportation.

Document Type

Udkast af koncipist

Amanuensis

NN

Archival Reference

m28, nr. 102

Thiele

Gengivet hos Thiele III, p. 301-302.

Other references

Subjects

Persons

Works

A55 Karyatide, 1813, inv.nr. A55
A56 Karyatide, 1813, inv.nr. A56
A82 Kristus, 1821, inv.nr. A82
A86 Peter, 1821, inv.nr. A86
A87 Matthæus, 1822, inv.nr. A87
A89 Johannes, 1824, inv.nr. A89
A91 Jakob den Yngre, 1824, inv.nr. A91
A93 Philip, 1824, inv.nr. A93
A96 Thomas, 1821, inv.nr. A96
A98 Jakob den Ældre, 1821, inv.nr. A98
A99 Bartholomæus, 1824, inv.nr. A99
A101 Simon Zelotes, 1824, inv.nr. A101
A103 Paulus, 1821, inv.nr. A103
A105 Judas Thaddæus, 10.04.1842, inv.nr. A105
A108 Andreas, 01.03.1842, inv.nr. A108
A503 Alexander den Stores indtog i Babylon, 1812, inv.nr. A503
A57 Sibylle fra Erythra, ca 1820, inv.nr. A57
A58 Sibylle fra Cumae, ca 1820, inv.nr. A58
A557 Kristi dåb, 1820, inv.nr. A557
A558 Den hellige nadver indstiftes, 1820, inv.nr. A558

Commentaries

  1. Thorvaldsen has probably written the date himself while the rest of the text has been written by the copyist.

  2. C.F. Hansen’s letter dated 24.11.1826 to Thorvaldsen.

  3. Here Thorvaldsen comments teasingly on C.F. Hansen’s letter dated 24.11.1826, in which Hansen repeatedly complains about his failing health and imminent death. Apparently the object of his complaints was to appeal to Thorvaldsen’s conscience because he had not progressed in his work on the decorations for the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen and Christiansborg, as C.F. Hansen had hoped; he would like to see his buildings completely finished before his death. (C.F. Hansen died in 1845).

  4. I.e. Frederik 6.

  5. I.e. the spring of 1827.

  6. It was not, however, the frigate mentioned in the letter (the Minerva), which brought Thorvaldsen’s works to Denmark in the spring of 1827, but the Danish merchant vessel the Therese, which was going to Tunesia with a so-called “tributary payment” to Bey Al-Husayn II ibn Mahmud, read more about this in the related articles Barbary States and Thorvaldsen and Transportation of Thorvaldsen’s Artworks to Copenhagen 1828.

  7. Cf. the related article Commission for the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen.

  8. Christ, cf. A82,and the twelve apostles, cf. Peter, A86, Matthew, A87, John, A89, James the Younger, A91, Philip, A93, Thomas, A96, James the Elder, A98, Bartholomew, A99, Simon the Zealot, A101, Paul, A103, Judas Thaddeus, A105 and Andrew, A108 all in plaster.

  9. John the Baptist Preaching consisted of a number of free-standing sculptures for the pediment of the church, cf. Reclining Youth, A64, Old Scribe, A63, Mother with her Son, A62, Father with his Son, A61, Youth, A60, John the Baptist, A59, A Boy, A65, Pharisee, A66, Hunter, A67, Two Children, A68, Mother with her Child, A69, Reclining Shepherd, A70.

  10. In his letter dated 24.11.1826, C.F. Hansen”:/personer/hansen-c-f had expressed a concern that the cornice might not be able to bear the group of sculptures if they were cast in bronze. Here then, Thorvaldsen suggests that the group be fastened to the wall rather than to the cornice.

  11. In his letter dated 24.11.1826, C.F. Hansen had mentioned a rumour that Thorvaldsen wanted the twelve apostles for the Church of Our Lady cast in bronze. In this letter, Thorvaldsen repudiates this rumour, stating that he only wants the outside group of sculptures John the Baptist Preaching cast in weather-resistant bronze.

  12. I.e. the portal of the Church of Our Lady.

  13. Of the four evangelists Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, Matthew and John were also Christ’s apostles, so they were already represented among the other apostles to be placed in the nave of the church.

  14. Cf. Matthew, cf. A87, and John, cf. A89.

  15. I.e. sibyls and prophets of the Old Testament, which e.g. Michelangelo (1475-1564) had also used in his decoration of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican, 1508-1512.
    Thorvaldsen’s two sibyls, the Erythraean Sybil, ca. 1820, A57, and the Cumaean Sybil, ca. 1820, A58, may be models for the portal of the Church of Our Lady.

  16. Thorvaldsen was never to execute these or other sculptures for the portal of the church. Instead, it was H.W. Bissen’s, Moses, 1853, and J.A. Jerichau’s David, 1852-1858, placed to the right and to the left of the portal, respectively.

  17. Cf. the related article Commission for Christiansborg.

  18. Thorvaldsen’s Caryatids, 1813. The marble versions in the throne room of Christiansborg Palace were destroyed in the fire of 1884, see instead the plaster casts A55 and A56.
    Read more about the caryatids in the related articles Commission for Christiansborg and Thorvaldsen’s Relations with Poland.

  19. Alexander the Great’s Entry into Babylon (the Alexander Frieze), marble, 1818-1834, A831 to A850, Christiansborg Palace. It was partly destroyed in the fire of 1884. See also the related articles The Alexander Frieze and Commission for Christiansborg.

  20. I.e. the original models for The Baptism of Christ, cf. A557 and The Institution of the Eucharist, cf. A558, which Thorvaldsen had executed during his Sojourn in Denmark, 1819-20, and which were now to be carved in marble for the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen, cf. the related article Commission for the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen. The information about the reliefs appears in the letter dated 7.5.1827 from C.F. Hansen to Thorvaldsen.

  21. I.e. during Thorvaldsen’s Sojourn in Denmark, 1819-20..

  22. The books in the crates have not been identified. For more about Thorvaldsen’s collection of books, see the index of the collection in Thorvaldsens Museum (to be published).

  23. Thorvaldsen’s residence at Charlottenborg aka the Academy of Fine Arts, cf. the related article Thorvaldsen’s Residence, Studio and Museum in the Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.

  24. The Danish architect Peder Malling.

Last updated 23.11.2016