The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Comment on 5.1.1795

In 1794 Thorvaldsen was occupied in making statues and reliefs primarily after Abildgaard’s drawings for the palace of Arveprins Frederik (Heir Presumptive), now Christian 8.’s Palace, Amalienborg (cf. Thiele I, p. 38-39).
Thorvaldsen was working on the following sculptures: The statues Euterpe (original model A757) and Terpsichore, (original model A758), the reliefs The Seasons, (original model Dep.21), The Hours, (original model Dep.22) and statues of two female figures, presumably muses.
In ‘Abildgård og Christian VIII’s palæ’, in: Thorvaldsens Museum I, (1917), p. 17, Leo Swane states his opinion, based on a stylistic analysis, that Euterpe and Terpsichore were probably executed by Thorvaldsen but after Abildgaard’s sketches (A757 and A758). Swane modifies his view in Abildgaard, Arkitektur og Dekoration, Copenhagen 1926, p. 73, but still thinks that “the sculptures in their composition and their pose, in their distinctive character, are the works of Abildgaard…”
This, however, is contradicted by Thorvaldsen himself, who, in his biography, written down by the historian Estrup 1818/1826, states that the two “are his works”. He made the same claim in a letter dated 8.1.1829 from Frederik Ferdinand Friis to J.M. Thiele, point 4, but also added “…as far as works for, e.g., the great hall are concerned, Thorvaldsen just remembers that Abilgaard asked him to execute several works for this palace, all of which he executed more as decorations than as real artworks.

Last updated 05.03.2015