Medio april 1804


Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Fonden ad usus publicos

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Ingen udskrift.

Dating based on

Brevudkast til brev af 24.4.1804, som svar på fondens brev af 6.3.1804. Brevet må være skrevet inden Thorvaldsens afrejse til Napoli april 1804, jf.den generelle kommentar.


Thorvaldsen is grateful for the grant which has encouraged him while he was suffering from low spirits and poor health. He promises to serve his fatherland in the best possible way. He is convinced that this will be by staying in Rome for a few more years as art has much better conditions here. After that he will return to Denmark. Thorvaldsen wants to withdraw the money immediately.


Jeg har modtaget et BrevI fra den (høystærede) KomissionII, som jeg virkelig ikke veed hvorledes jeg skal kunne svare paa. Komissionen viser ej blot det første Forsøg af et Udkast til et KunststykkeIII, som jeg vovede at fremstille offentlig, en Opmærksomhed, der overgaaer selv mine lykkeligste Øyeblikkes Forhaabninger, men rejser ved Ære og Belønninger endog mit Mod just nu, da ej blot Begynderens Ufuldkommenhed og Frygtsomhed, men ogsaa mit Helbreds SvaghedIV trykkede det. Selv Hans Kongelige Høyhed KronprindsensV Bifald, Hans MajestætsVI Naade har den erhvervet mig.
Sikkerlig! ingen Bestræbelse skal blive mig vigtigere end at fortjæne saa ædel en Lykke og, om mine Kræfter ville tillade det, at arbejde for et Fædrenelands Ære, der saaledes elsker sine Børn. Jeg troer som (den høystærede) Komission at det er bedst jeg for det første bliver nogle Aar i RomVII, hvor Midlerne saavel til min Uddannelse, som til Udførelsen af Kunstværker i mit Fag ere flere og lettere mindre kostbare end i mit langt kjærere Fødeland, og hvor den større Sammenkomst af Kunstnere og Kunstelskere lettere kunne gjøre mig bekjændt. Men at leve og døe ønsker jeg kun i mit langt kjærere og lykkeligere Fødeland, og nu kun saa meget mere, som jeg tør haabe min elskede Regjerings GunstVIII.
En Avista VexelIX paa 240 rd tager jeg mig den Frihed med denne Post at sende til
Anbefalende mig fremdeles til den høystærede Komissions gunstige Erindring henlever jeg

underdanigste Tjæner

Oversættelse af dokument

I have received a letter from the (honourable) directors of the foundation, which I really do not know how to be able to answer. The directors have not only vouchsafed attention which exceeds my most sanguine expectations to the first attempt at a study of a piece of art which I dared exhibit in public, but even raise my courage with honour and awards just now when not only the shortcomings and timidity of the beginner but also my infirmity oppressed it. Even His Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s approval, His Majesty’s favour has it obtained for me.
Surely! No endeavour shall be more important to me than to deserve such an elevated happiness and, if I have strength enough, to work for the honour of a native land which loves its children like this. As the (honourable) directors I think that it is best for the time being that I stay some years in Rome where the means to my studies as well as to the execution of works of art in my line are more and easier less expensive than in my much dearer native land and where greater meeting of artists and art lovers would more easily make me known. However, I only wish to live and to die in my far more dear and happy native land and now so much more as I dare hope for the favour of my beloved government.
I take the liberty to send an avista bill for 240 rix-dollars by this mail.
Sincerely still to the memory of the honourable directors I live

The directors’
Most humble servant.

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

The draft must have been written in Rome immediately before Thorvaldsen’s departure for Naples, which took place between the “10th and the 19th of April 1804”:/chronology/vis/1119, as the copyist is the same as in the letter draft of the middle of April 1804, which was unquestionably written in Rome. In the letter to Schubart there are sentences that are identical to some of the sentences above, and Thorvaldsen also declares his intention to write to Fonden ad usus publicos by the next mail, which supports the assumption that the two letters were written at the same time. The present draft did not immediately result in a letter, and only after another draft of not later than 24.4.1804, written in Naples, was the final letter of 24.4.1804 sent off. This first draft is much more unsophisticated and less polished in its tone than the letter which was sent.

Document Type

Udkast af koncipist



Comment on amanuensis

Koncipisten er endnu uidentificeret, men kaldes af hensyn til senere sammenligning nr. 2 og er identisk med koncipisten i brevudkastet til Herman Schubart af medio april 1804.

Archival Reference

m28, nr. 118


Ikke omtalt hos Thiele.




  1. See letter from Fonden ad usus publicos of 6.3.1804, which informed Thorvaldsen that he had received a “gratification” of 300 rix-dollars.

  2. I.e. Fonden ad usus publicos; the word commission is used here about the directors of the foundation: Christian Ditlev Reventlow and Ernst Schimmelmann, cf. Ordbog over det danske Sprog, pkt. 2.

  3. >It is impossible to establish whether Thorvaldsen here is talking about his work generally, or whether, as the choice of words seems to indicate, he is referring to a single sketch. The foundation did not mention individual works in its grounds for awarding the grant (cf. letter of “6.3.1804) but talked generally about the sculptor’s many proofs of his skills and the honour and glory he had won abroad among judges of art. So it could be a reference to the works that Thorvaldsen had sent home to the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1798 and 1802 as proofs of his progress, see the related article about these.
    However, it would be more natural that it was a reference either to Bacchus and Ariadne, A1, which Thorvaldsen had sent home for the judgement of the Academy in the summer of 1798. Or to the busts which Nicolai Abildgaard had just received after a long delay, and which he mentioned in his letter to Thorvaldsen of 17.1.1804. Charlotte Schimmelmann also mentioned the busts (cf. Herman Schubart’s letter of 21.1.1804), and her husband, Ernst Schimmelmann, was one of the directors of Fonden ad usus publicos and had promised his wife to promote Thorvaldsen’s case. Charlotte Schimmelmann, cf. the above-mentioned letter from Schubart, also wanted to try to further the interest of the other director of the foundation, Christian Ditlev Reventlow in Thorvaldsen.

  4. Thorvaldsen had been ill over the past year, see the related article about Thorvaldsen’s Illness 1803-04.

  5. I.e. Crown Prince Frederik (6.). The word approval refers to the “gratification” that Thorvaldsen had received – see draft of not later than 24.4.1804, in which this is elaborated.

  6. I.e. Christian 7.
    The word favour refers to the “gratification” that Thorvaldsen had received – see draft of not later than 24.4.1804, in which this is elaborated.

  7. Here Thorvaldsen correctly interprets the foundation’s discreet hint that the grant might enable Thorvaldsen to remain a while longer in Rome, where he belonged naturally as an artist, cf. the letter from the foundation of 6.3.1804. The sentence, however, was omitted from the final letter of 24.4.1804, perhaps because it might reveal what was, from a Danish national point of view, Thorvaldsen’s slightly too great joy at being able to postpone his return to Denmark once more.
    The question about the possibility of his continuance abroad had worried Thorvaldsen for a long time, see the related article regarding this.

  8. Beyond the honour of having received the grant, Thorvaldsen may here be referring to the decorations for the rebuilding of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, in which both Nicolai Abildgaard and Herman Schubart had promised to involve Thorvaldsen in letters of 17.1.1804 and 21.1.1804 respectively, see the related article about The Commission for Christiansborg.

  9. A bill of exchange was used in international bank transactions of that time, see more about (avista)bills of exchange in Monetary Units.
    Thorvaldsen did not receive the “gratification” mentioned here until much later, see more about this matter in “The Only Price I Charge”:/artikler/den-eeneste-pris-jeg-setter-derpaa.

Last updated 29.04.2015