The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

A Picture Caption for a Double Portrait

  • Grete Zahle,, 1989
  • This is a re-publication of the article: Grete Zahle: ‘A Picture Caption for a Double Portrait’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1989, p. 303-314.
    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance, please see this facsimile scan.
    For a presentation of the English summary in its original appearance, please see this facsimile scan.

The painter Jørgen Sonne was commissioned to do the mural decorations for the building which Gottlieb Bindesbøll had created as a museum for Thorvaldsen’s works and collections.

Sonne chose, probably together with Bindesbøll, to present in parallel two major events on each of the building’s long sides.

These murals are linked on the eastern end wall by an almost abstract presentation of the frigate Rota, which brought Thorvaldsen home from Italy.

The northern wall presents, as in a film or a comic strip, the happy day when Denmark’s great sculptor landed in Copenhagen – greeted enthusiastically from innumerable boats, filled with Denmark’s artistic and cultural elite.

The southern wall shows the transporting of the priceless sculptures and other works of art, the sculptor’s gift to his homeland. Beside the entrance to the museum on this wall is a full-length double portrait of the painter Jørgen Roed and his wife Emilie, née Kruse.

This double portrait is the subject of the article. There are little- known letters concerned with the two which tell about their lives, and especially about Emilie’s personality and ideas.

It was an innovation to make portraits of living people in the way chosen by Sonne. With few strokes and colours, he creates a poignant depiction of his two close friends, the Roeds.


Chr. Bruun og L. P. Fenger: Thorvaldsens Museums Historie. 1892.

Helene Nyblom: Livsminder fra Danmark. 1923.

Erik Moltesen: Sonnes Thorvaldsen Frise og dens Forudsætninger. 1926.

Thorvaldsens Museum gennem 100 år. Medd. fra Thorv. Mus. 1948.

Georg Jacobsen: Thorvaldsen Frisen. En Analyse. Medd. fra Thorv. Mus. 1959.

Peder Hald: Sonnes Frise. Farver og Farveproblemer. Udgivet af Sadolin og Holmblad. 1959.

Knud Millech: Bindesbølls Museum. Medd. fra Thorv. Mus. 1960.

Vincent van Gogh. Brieve an zijn Broeder. 1914.

Gunnel Valquist: Helena Nyblom. 1987.

Erik Zahles Arkiv. NKS. Util. 527- Det kongelige Bibliotek.

Det Roed-Nyblomske Familiearkiv. G 196. Universitetsbiblioteket, Uppsala, Sverige. Takket være stud.mag. Nanna Gøtzsche har jeg under udarbejdelsen af denne artikel haft lejlighed til at se en stor del af den originale brevsamling.

Brev fra Jørgen Roed til Gottlieb Bindesbøll. NKS Add 297 III. Det kongelige Bibliotek.

Brev fra Emilie Roed til Marie Hammerich (Richardt). NKS 3830. Det kongelige Bibliotek.

Brev fra Emilie Roed til Jette Collin. NKS Den Collinske Brevsamling V. Det kongelige Bibliotek

Constantin Hansens Arkiv. NKS Add 450 VI. Det kongelige Bibliotek.

Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. 1979-84.

Last updated 11.05.2017