Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Kunstakademiet, København

Recipient’s Location


Information on recipient

Da originalbrevet er bortkommet, vides det ikke, om det var forsynet med udskrift.

Dating based on

Originalbrevet kendes ikke, men dateringen fremgår af Kunstakademiets dagbog, hvor brevet gengives i afskrift, og hvor modtagelsen af det noteres, se den generelle kommentar.


Thorvaldsen reports that he is still in Rome, but he plans to embark on his journey back to Denmark in the summer.


Jeg giver mig herved den Friehed at tilkiendegiveI det Kongelige Academie, at mit Opholdssted er endnu her, og hvormeget ieg end ønskede at kunde blive her noget længere, saa seer ieg mig dog ikke i Stand dertil, saasom den for Rom saa ulykkelige TidII i hvilken ieg her har opholdt mig, ikke har været noget for Konstneren at fortieneIII, og seer endnu ud til at vil vare længe førend det kan bedres, og altsaa nu det mig gunstigst forundte Stipendium ophørerIV, er ieg nødt til at forlade denne Bye, for at begive mig paa Hiemreisen i SommerV.
Jeg kan ikke sige hvormeget ieg føler mig Academiet forpligtetVI for al den Godhed ieg har nydt af samme, og hvormeget ieg ønsker efter min Tilbagekomst til Kiøbenhavn at kunde paa nogen Maade bevise den Taknemmelighed og Hengivenhed med hvilken jeg har den Ære at forblive

Deres underdanigste Tiener Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Hereby I take the liberty to inform the Royal Academy that my place of sojourn is still here, and as much as I wish to be able to stay longer I do not find myself able to do so as the for Rome so unhappy times in which I have been here has nothing to give to the artist, and it looks as if it will still be long before it will improve, and as the to me favourably given scholarship now comes to an end, I am compelled to leave this city to set out on the home journey this summer.
I cannot say how much I feel obliged to the Academy for all the kindness I have enjoyed from the same, and how much I wish after my return to Copenhagen to prove the gratefulness and devotion in any way with which I have the honour to remain

Your most humble servant, Thorvaldsen

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

The original letter has been lost, but there is a copy of it in the journal of the Academy of Fine Arts and in Thiele I, p. 172-3. The present version is from the journal of the Academy in the Danish National Archives.
Regarding receipt of the letter, the journal of 26.4.1802 reads: “Since the last assembly, a letter has been received from the pensioner, sculptor Thorvaldsen in Rome, dated March 20, 1802, reading:” followed by a transcript of Thorvaldsen’s letter.

Archival Reference

Afskrift i Rigsarkivet, Kunstakademiets arkiv, Akademiforsamlingen, Dagbog 26.4.1802.


Gengivet hos Thiele I, p. 172-173.



  1. According to the instructions of the Academy of Fine Arts of 23.8.1796, Thorvaldsen had to send a report on his activities every six months. His latest report was from 22.4.1801, so he owed the Academy a letter.

  2. Since 1797, when Thorvaldsen arrived in Rome, the city had experienced war and occupation by alternating French and Neapolitan troops; the Pope’s exile; the introduction of the Roman republic and its subsequent dissolution at the restoration of the Papal States.
    Thorvaldsen may be referring to these dramatic events in order to forestall any criticism for not having done as much as the Academy of Fine Arts might expect, or maybe he is even angling for an extraordinary prolongation of his scholarship?

  3. Thorvaldsen’s Financial Circumstances were quite difficult at this moment. He had also mentioned the high costs of living in Rome in his previous letter of 22.4.1801 to the Academy.

  4. Thorvaldsen’ s six-year-long scholarship expired officially 1.7.1802, see Thorvaldsen Chronology.

  5. At this moment, Thorvaldsen was still planning to leave Rome in the summer of 1802, but these plans were changed when Georg Zoëga suggested that they return to Denmark together in the spring of 1803, see Thorvaldsen Chronology.
    In the end, of course, Thorvaldsen did not return to Denmark, see the related article Thorvaldsen’s Continuance in Rome 1803-1804.

  6. Thorvaldsen’s sense of obligation to the Academy of Fine Arts was not just a polite phrase. Formally the academy stipendiaries abroad were the subjects of their King and Country, and the purpose of their foreign education was that the artists were obliged to return and serve their king. Regarding this problem, see the related article about Thorvaldsen’s Continuance in Rome 1803-1804.

Last updated 27.01.2015