The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on The country bumpkin and the donkey-rider in the service of art and freedom

Competition for success and recognition among the artists could also be fierce, and at times involved coarse humor and tenacity. This is evident, for example, in an anecdote that is told variously by the English sculptor John Gibson (1790–1866) and the Danish professor and author N. C. L. Abrahams (1798–1870), but which seems to have a kernel of truth to it. The anecdote concerns the German painter Ernst Zacharias Platner (1773–1855), and indirectly claims to explain the reason why Platner abandoned his métier as a practicing artist in favor of a career as an art critic and diplomat. According to both accounts, Platner had asked a number of colleagues and connoisseurs to provide critical feedback on his most recent large sketch for a painting. Abrahams names Joseph Anton Koch as the main actor, while Gibson highlights Thorvaldsen and the German painter Peter von Cornelius (1783-1864). True or false, read Gibson’s entertaining narration of the episode here. Cited from Gibson’s autobiography, T. Matthews (ed.), The Biography of John Gibson, R. A., Sculptor, Rome, London 1911, pp. 221–222.

Last updated 14.02.2020