No. 98 of 10318
Sender Date Recipient
Bertel Thorvaldsen [+]

Sender’s Location


Information on sender

Ingen udskrift.

Antagelig marts 1797 [+]

Dating based on

Om dateringen, se den generelle kommentar.

Jørgen West [+]

Recipient’s Location



A sheet with several fragments in Danish, German and Italian. First two drafts of a letter in Italian addressed to an unknown recipient; then two drafts in Danish of the beginning of a letter, probably to Jørgen West; finally, a short note from Peter Kauffmann and some intimate sentences in Italian.

See Original [Translation]

[Tekstfelt 1:]

[papiret afrevet] [Con m]olto piacere ho io recevuto vostro billietto
che [xxx] pregatarvi[?] di sapere nuove

Con molto piacere ho recevutto vostra lettera
Sono tanto obligato di vostra atenzione perone
non mancherebbe che io vierò a trovarvi, ma
a presente adesso e enposibelli forse sara melegio [meglio?]
vi prego di comodare l’afare con vostra Sorella
molto ebbe[?] a sercate di e devertirvi quando potete [potede?]

[Tekststykke på højkant i forhold til de to ovennævnte italiensksprogede:]
Nu er ieg endeligen kommen
til Rom og der kan begynde
at Arbeæde som jeg lenges
meget efter for at komme til

[Tekstfelt 2:]

Da ieg nu er kommen paa mit [Bestemmelsessted?] [papiret afrevet]
og ikke har nødig at Reyse mere [?] [papiret afrevet]
der ham [derhen?] om Du vilde skrive mig [?] [papiret afrevet]
ieg lenges so forskrækellig efter Bre[v] [for at få?] [papiret afrevet]
at hvide vorledes det gor dersom Du vel [spørge?] [papiret afrevet]
mine forældre fra mig om Di har faaet det [Brev?] [papiret afrevet]
som var inden i Academies. og om Dee vil
skrive mig til eller ikke De gor mig Rele [rigtig?] nok
ondt Da ieg ikke ved vorledes det gaa til
i Kiøbenhavn

[Tekstfelt 3:]

Caricima Carissima Amica
Kiöbenhanv d d 20 Mars

[Tekststykke på hovedet i forhold til ovennævnte:]
Herr Thorwaldsen ich bitte sie von der gütte zu
seyn und mir disen abend wen es möglich wäre
etwan ein Scudo der Sigr Orcola zu geben[.]
ich werde etwas spetter in abhollen[,] sie werden
sehr verbinden [verbunden?] ihren wahren

[Tekstfelt 4:]

Ko K Kiöbenhavn K
Kio K

[et ulæseligt ord]

[Tekststykke på hovedet i forhold til ovennævnte:]
Tu fai la furbanella
Ecco – mi a te d’intro no

General Comment

These 6 fragments of text are all found on the same side of a piece of paper, on the opposite side of which there are some sketches related to Thorvaldsen’s stay on Malta. The sheet is therefore placed in the collection of drawings in Thorvaldsens Museum, C818v.
The sheet has been folded twice – once in either direction – so that the side with the fragments of text is divided into four equally large sections here numbered 1-4, with the top two sections as 1 and 2.
Two corners of the paper have been torn off, which has caused a loss of text in sections 1 and 2, especially the latter containing the draft letter to Jørgen West.

Regarding the date:
The sketches on the sheet recto, C818r, and the texts verso, C818v, can be dated 1796-97 on the basis of the following clues:
  1. The two Danish draft letters by Thorvaldsen point to March 1797 just after his arrival in Rome 8.3.1797: ”Now I have finally come to Rome…” and “As I have now reached my [paper torn off; Thiele I, p.106 suggests “destination”] and do not need to travel more [paper torn off]”.
  2. The fragment: “Copenhagen March 20” probably indicates the date 20.3. 1797. That Thorvaldsen has written Copenhagen (several times) should be regarded as samples of his writing, probably because he was to write the name of the city in the address on a letter he was going to send to Copenhagen. “March 20” is therefore likely to be an exact date.
  3. The two Danish draft letters can be said with considerable certainty to be addressed to Jørgen West for several reasons: They have clearly been written to a good friend, with whom Thorvaldsen was “on familiar terms”:/ artikler/dus-med-thorvaldsen, and who knew his parents well, which points to West. Besides, in a letter now lost, dated not later than 1797 to his father, Thorvaldsen asked if West had received the letter Thorvaldsen had sent to him, see letter dated 8.5.1797 from Gotskalk Thorvaldsen to his son. In his letter dated “14.8.1797”:/dokumenter/m11797,nr.5, West thanks Thorvaldsen for his letter announcing his arrival in Rome. West apologizes for having taken such a long time to answer it. Therefore, it can be established that, shortly after his arrival in Rome, Thorvaldsen sent a letter to West which he might reasonably have expected to arrive in Copenhagen not later than early May 1797. The letter sent to West could therefore have been written on 20.3.1797 as Thorvaldsen wrote on this sheet. This argument then suggests a fairly well-founded date for the two Danish letter fragments from Thorvaldsen. #The two sketches recto. C818r, can both be connected to Thorvaldsen’s stay on Malta at the turn of 1796-97: The Centaur Chiron Teaching Achilles Medicin recalls a drawing with a similar motif on an album leaf in Thorvaldsens Museum C499, which Thorvaldsen drew for the ship’s doctor G.C. Hansen on the frigate Thetis. The sketch of the buildings represents Fort St. Angelo in Valletta Harbour. This must mean that Thorvaldsen has brought the sheet with him on his journey from Denmark to Rome, and that the letter drafts verso must be dated from his earliest time in Italy. #There is a watermark in the middle of the paper: Two mirrored Cs with the figure seven in each for Christian 7. The watermark is the principal mark for “N H B Orholm Fabrique”, i.e. Ørholm papermill on Mølleåen on Zealand, founded in 1793. Even if the paper is Danish, it may of course have been exported, but the most likely explanation is that Thorvaldsen had brought the paper with him on his journey in 1796-97. This strengthens the assumption that the draft letters verso stem from his earliest time in Italy.
  4. The German note to Thorvaldsen comes from the sculptor Peter Kauffmann. The handwriting has so many similarities with Kauffmann’s later letter dated 15.7.1822 to Thorvaldsen that no doubt as to the author of the message is possible. Kauffmann also came to Rome in 1797 and belonged to the same group of German-Scandinavian artists as Thorvaldsen, so they must have known each other from Thorvaldsen’s earliest time in Rome. The Swedish doctor J.J. Ekman sends greetings to “Kaufmann” in a letter to Thorvaldsen dated 10.3.1801.
    At first glance, Kauffmann’s note looks like the original, which Thorvaldsen later used to make drafts of drawings and letters. However, since Thorvaldsen is likely to have brought the sheet from Denmark and certainly drew on it on Malta, Kauffmann’s note must have been written after Thorvaldsen used the sheet.
    Kauffmann’s note has neither a date nor an address. It is therefore likely that the note was written when Kauffmann knew Thorvaldsen so well that he had access to the place where he kept his papers. The German, then, wrote his note on a random piece of paper found in Thorvaldsen’s lodgings. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the note does not look like a letter; it seems to have been written in haste and without punctuation.
    Furthermore, Kauffmann mentions one “Sigr Orcola”, which could be read as Signora Orsola, who could be Thorvaldsen’s landlady Ursula or Orsola Polverini Narlinghi at 141 Via Sistina, but Thorvaldsen did not live there until 1800. However, he could have known the landlady before he moved into her house.

These six clues, then, indicate that the sketches recto and the text fragments verso must be dated 1796-97.
Thorvaldsen must have had the paper with him on his journey to Italy and used it to make drawings on Malta. Since the text fragments are all on the verso of the sheet in relation to the drawings, it is likely that Thorvaldsen kept his Maltese sketches and used the other side for drafts of various letters after his arrival in Rome.
The Italian draft letters have even been written before the two Danish fragments, i.e. probably before 20.3.1797 – only Kauffmann’s note and the other small fragments cannot be dated with certainty – although Kauffmann’s note was probably written before Thorvaldsen wrote his writing samples with the date 20.3. just below in section 3. If one imagines Kaufmann looking among Thorvaldsen’s papers for a sheet with sufficient space for his message, he would hardly have chosen the present sheet if Thorvaldsen had already filled part of the space in section 3 with his scribblings. Although this concerning Kauffmann’s note is speculative, it seems more likely, considering its placement, that Kauffmann used this part of the paper before Thorvaldsen than the other way round. In that case, Kaufmann’s note might have been written before Thorvaldsen wrote “March 20”.
All things considered, the text fragments on the paper need not have been written at the same time – Thorvaldsen’s use of old pieces of paper is well-known, see e.g. Thiele I, p.XI-XII – but on the basis of
the above, it seems reasonable to assume that they may date from approximately the same period, i.e. around March 1797.

Archival Reference
C818v (tidligere: m28, nr. 109)
Document Type
Draft, autograph
Det ene brevudkast til West gengives hos Thiele I, p. 106; det italienske udkast omtales indirekte ibid., p. 112-113.
On Familiar Terms with Thorvaldsen · Journey to Italy, 1796-1797 · Thorvaldsen and Carnal Pleasures · Thorvaldsen's Dilligence · Thorvaldsen's Parents · Thorvaldsen's Women · Thorvaldsen's Spoken and Written Language
Peter Kauffmann · Orsola Polverini Narlinghi · Gotskalk Thorvaldsen · Karen Thorvaldsen
Last updated 24.08.2017 Print