The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 6.8.1804

Karen Thorvaldsen died 7.1.1804, which Abildgaard told Thorvaldsen in his letter dated 17.1.1804.
The following passage about the strong impression that the news about his mother’s death had made on him was omitted in the final version dated 6.8.1804 to Abildgaard, so it was obviously difficult for Thorvaldsen to tell his mentor about his grief.
Thiele I, p. 209 thinks that Abildgaard’s news about the mother’s death was conveyed in ”a very rough and indifferent manner”, which aroused a “feeling of bitterness” in Thorvaldsen, but the question is what Abildgaard could have written to soften the harshness of the news. Thiele continues on p. 210: “At the time Thorvaldsen hid his ill-will towards Abildgaard because of this letter [dated 17.1.1804] as well as he could by not mentioning his mother’s death at all in the letter [dated 25.2.1804] that he then wrote to him…” Whether one is to understand Thorvaldsen’s silence as ill-will towards Abildgaard or not, it is still a fact that the sculptor suppressed his reaction both in his first letter dated 25.2.1804 and also in this second one less than six months later.

Last updated 16.01.2018