Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Herman Schubart

Recipient’s Location


Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af udkastet.


Thorvaldsen apologizes for his late reply and informs Schubart that he is finishing Bacchus, A2. He reports news from the Roman art scene and says that he will soon come to Montenero to work.


Rom d 30 NovenberI 1804

Deres kiære BrevII af 2 Nov[e]mber imodtog jeg med stor Glæde men tillige saa sildig at det ikke var mig muligt at besvare det samme Dag og maatte opsette det til den negsteIII Post hvomed jeg skrevIV. Jeg ser af Deres El[s]kverd[ige] Sk[r]ive[l]seV af 26 Nov[e]mber at De ikke har bekommet det, tillige at jeg ikke kan have den Glæde at see Dem saa snart som jeg ønskede
Jeg kan ikke beskrive hvor undt det gjør mig at Deres Excellenza maa opholde sig paa denne Aar[s]tid med Deres Sygelige GemalindeVI paa MonteneroVII og tillige saa ensom, om faae Dage kan jeg faae min BacusVIII som jeg har under arbeide ferdig og saa kan jeg kommeIX til Deres Excellenza og arbeide hos DemX dersom
Jeg takker for det tilbud at
Her er alt saa vit ieg ved ved det Gamle, CanovaXI har giord Modellen [til] Boneparte[s]XII ModerXIII siden[de] som Agrepina paa CapitolioXIV og er meget skiønd arbejdet. Hendes Datter Prinsesse BorcheseXV forestillende som en ligende Venus er ikke saa god, men han[s] monument til AlfieriXVI er kiønd. CamuciniXVII har giordt en teæligXVIII CartonXIX som for[e]stiller Tomas som stikk[er] sin finger i Kristos sidesaaer, naar han har mallet det skal det eftergiøres i MusaichXX til San PietroXXI her. Den tyske BilledhuggerXXII gjør nu sin [fortsættes på side 4] smukke Amor i Marmor for sin PrinsXXIII.

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, November 30th 1804

Your dear letter of November 2nd I received with great pleasure but also so late that it was not possible to answer it the same day and I had to postpone it to the next mail, by which I wrote. I see from your kind letter of November 26th that you have not received it besides that I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you as soon as I wished. I cannot describe how sorry I feel that Your Excellency at this time of the year must stay with your invalid wife at Montenero and also so lonesome, in a few days I can get my Bacchus finished which I am working at and then I can go to Your Excellency and work at your place if
I thank you for the offer to
Here everything goes on as before as far as I know. Canova has made the model [for] Bonaparte’s mother sitting like Agrepina at Capitolio, and it is beautifully made. Her daughter Princess Borghese presented as a lying Venus is not so good, but his monument for Alfieri is beautiful. Camucini has made a wonderful carton which represents Thomas sticking his finger into the side wound of Christ, when he has painted it, it is to be copied in mosaic for San Pietro here. The German sculptor is now making his [continued on page 4] beautiful Cupid in marble for his prince.

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

This draft is written on the same sheet as two other drafts, probably of the same letter, see 30.11.1804 and 7.12.1804. The original text of the sheet is a bill of 22.11.1804 from Thorvaldsen’s landlord, Camillo Buti.

Regarding the connection between these three drafts, the bill, and some pencil sketches, see the general comment on the draft of 7.12.1804.

Document Type

Egenhændigt udkast

Archival Reference

m28, nr. 19a


Gengivet hos Thiele I, p. 259.




A2_ Bacchus, 1804, inv.nr. A2


  1. Fejlstavningen peger på Thorvaldsens ordblindhed, se mere herom i Thorvaldsens tale- og skriftsprog.
    I det andet udkast til samme brev har ordet november voldt billedhuggeren endnu større problemer.

  2. I.e. Schubart’s letter to Thorvaldsen of 2.11.1804.

  3. Dvs. næste.

  4. It is very doubtful whether this letter was sent, much less written. Schubart’s letter of 2.11.1804 must have reached Thorvaldsen c.5-8.11.1804 as letters usually took between two and six days to go from Leghorn to Rome, see Mail Processing Time.
    If Thorvaldsen had written a letter, it would have dated from the period after 8.11.1804 and before Schubart’s latest letter of 26.11.1804.
    At any rate there is no known draft or letter from 8.11.1804 and on.
    See more about when Thorvaldsen got a letter sent off in the general comment on the draft of 7.12.1804.

  5. I.e. Schubart’s letter to Thorvaldsen of 26.11.1804.

  6. I.e. Jacqueline Schubart.

  7. The Schubarts’ summer residence Montenero just south of Leghorn.

  8. I.e. the statue Bacchus, A2, whose approximate date of completion is established here.

  9. According to known sources, Thorvaldsen did not return to Montenero until 9.8.1805.

  10. In the summer of 1804, the Schubarts had converted an annexe at Montenero into a studio for Thorvaldsen, cf. Schubart’s letter to the sculptor of 2.7.1804 and the related article about Montenero.

  11. I.e. the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.

  12. I.e. Napoleon 1, who a few days later, on 2.12.1804, crowned himself Emperor of France at Notre Dame in Paris.

  13. I.e. Canova’s Portrait of Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte.

  14. An antique sculpture of a seated woman, which, at the time of Thorvaldsen and up until 1919, was generally believed to represent Empress Agrippina the Elder (c.14 BC – AD 33).
    Recent research, however, has shown that the portrait is more likely to represent Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother (c. 250-57 – c. 329-35 AD), cf. Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny: Taste and the Antique. The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, New Haven and London 1981, p.133-134 and Wolfgang Helbig: Führer duch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, vol. II, Tübingen 1966, p. 153-154. The portrait is executed after a Greek statue representing Aphrodite by Phidias.
    The statue is still at the Musei Capitolini, as Thorvaldsen writes.

  15. I.e. Canova’s portrait of Pauline Bonaparte, executed in marble in 1805-1808, today in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

  16. I.e. Antonio Canova’s Monument to Vittorio Alfieri, which was executed in marble 1806-10 in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Firenze. There is an etching and an engraving of the monument in Thorvaldsen’s collection, cf. E1989 and E536.

    The monument was commissioned from Canova after Alfieri’s death by his friend Countess Louise Albany, née Countess of Stolberg-Gedern (1753-1824) and the widow of the last Stuart, the English pretender Prince Charles Edward.
    It must be the first sketch that Thorvaldsen here claims to have seen in 1804 – a relief representing Italia grieving at Alfieri’s bust, the genius of Death on the left and Cupid weeping on the right behind Italia.
    However, Countess Albany was not satisfied with the sketch of the relief, so instead Canova executed, in 1806-10, a free-standing monument, which consisted of a large pedestal supporting a sarcophagus with a portrait medallion of Alfieri and a statue of the grieving Italia.

  17. I.e. the Italian painter Vincenzo Camuccini.

  18. Dvs. dejlig.

  19. I.e. a sketch for Camuccini’s painting Incredulity of St. Thomas, commissioned by Pius VII and finished in 1805. The painting was a sketch for a mosaic, which was executed in 1806-1822 as an altarpiece for the south transept of St. Peter’s Basilica, see the church homepage, or Gianna Piantoni De Angelis (ed.): Vincenzo Camuccini (1771-1844). Bozzetti e desegni dallo studio dell’artiste, Rome 1978, p. 78, catalogue numbers 165 and 166.
    From 1803, Camuccini was the director of the Mosaic Studio of St. Peter’s Basilica.
    The passage is mentioned in Kasper Monrad: ‘Kunstlivet i Rom 1800-1820 set med danske kunstnerøjne’, in: Hannemarie Ragn Jensen inter al. (ed.): Inspirationens skatkammer. Rom og skandinaviske kunstnere i 1800-tallet, p. 60.

  20. Cf. the preceding note.

  21. I.e. Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

  22. This is the German sculptor Konrad Heinrich Schweickle, who finished the statue Amor als Sieger (Eros Nikator) in the autumn of 1804. The statue attracted attention in Rome and was commissioned in marble by Prince Friedrich I of Württemberg (1754-1816). Today the statue is in Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg in Stuttgart, cf. Deutsche Biographie.

  23. Det var kongen af Württemberg Friedrich 1. (1754-1816), der havde bestilt statuen i marmor, jf. den foregående kommentar. Thorvaldsen mener antagelig prins i betydningen fyrste, jf. Ordbog over det danske Sprog under prins, betydning 1, og har nok ikke opfattet det som om, det var Friedrich 1.’s søn kronprins Wilhelm 1., der havde bestilt marmorversionen.

Last updated 13.07.2015