The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on Jason and the Hope Commission

For evidence that times were indeed very hard in Rome at this point, see, e.g., the letter dated November 13, 1802 from the Swiss author Karl Viktor von Bonstetten to the painter Henry Füseli (1747-1825), which reports that people were dying of hunger on a daily basis. Thorvaldsen’s reluctance to incur such high future costs must thus be said to have had a real basis in fact. Even though Bonstetten’s letter dates from 1802, and so does not correspond precisely to the time of Thorvaldsen’s letter of April 4, 1800, it undeniably reveals that the famine was serious, and had continued unabated for years: “[…] Ach die Zeiten sind schreklich; jede Nacht jeden morgen findet man hungers gestorbene. Das Elend ist unbeshreiblich […]” The letter is reproduced in Doris og Peter Walser-Wilhelm, Bonstettiana: Briefkorrespondanzen Karl Viktor von Bonstettens und seines Kreises, vol. IX/I, Göttingen 2002, p. 405. The letter of November 13, 1802 is the continuation of a letter begun on October 29, 1802 in Albano. This characterization is further supported by Thorvaldsen’s 22.4.1801 letter to the Academy; cf. below.

Last updated 21.12.2014