The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on History of the Archives

Meldahl has written the following on the front of the envelope: “Secretary Johansen’s declaration that he did not communicate anything of the contents of the letters which he came to read, and never to allow anything of it to be made available to others. F. Meldahl.” Declaration of 2.1.1899 from Secretary Peter Johansen to Ferdinand Meldahl, Kammerherre Meldahl’s Box, Thorvaldsens Museum. Although the first part of the signature is difficult to read it is without doubt that of the painter and art historian Peter Johansen (1858-1939). On 18.10.1897 he was given the task of preparing a chronological index to Thorvaldsen’s letters, see Thorvaldsens Museum Sagsprotokol I, p. 47, point 39. According to Thorvaldsens Museum’s records, the desire for the letters to be arranged was put forward by Meldahl on 27.7.1896 and completed 16.10.1899, both according to Journal A, p. 215, Thorvaldsens Museum.
Comparisons of the handwriting and signature in the declaration, the prepared list and the correspondence in the museum’s records show without doubt that they are by the same person, see P. Johansen’s and A. Røder’s rough draft for the index to Thorvaldsen’s Letters, Thorvaldsens Museum Archives and record number 12 b 9/99 and 12 b19/99, Thorvaldsens Museum Archives. The date and the declaration also coincide with Johansen’s work for the museum, and Meldahl knew Johansen from the the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art: Johansen was an assistant in the Academy Library 1883-1901, secretary to the Schools Council 1889-1901; librarian 1901-28; lecturer in art history 1901-28; secretary for the Charlottenborg exhibition 1897-1901, see Weilbachs Kunstnerleksikon. Meldahl was during the same period also linked to the Academy: professor in the Academy 1864-1905; chairman for the Academy schools council 1864-1902, 1905-08; director 1873-90, 1899-1902; vice-director 1890-93, 1902-05. The register of the letter archives was prepared in collaboration between Johansen, the art historian Andreas Røder and the archive secretary L. Laursen, see ref. nr. 12b, 9/99, 10/99, 19/99, 20.99.

Last updated 07.01.2009