Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location



Charlotte Schimmelmann

Recipient’s Location


Dating based on

Dateringen skyldes et udkast dateret 4.2.1809 med tilsvarende indhold.


Thorvaldsen is grateful for Schimmelmann’s praise of the baptismal font, cf. A555,1, A555,2, A555,3, A555,4, and for the precious agraffe that she has sent him through her brother Herman Schubart. He regrets that her praise of the font is based only on what she has heard about it. Thorvaldsen informs her of the price of the font, which only covers the actual costs (i.e. half his normal fee). His reward will be the honour of having made her a work of art that she appreciates.


Saa behagelig det end haver været mig at erfare Deres Naades yttrede Bifald med den forlangte DøbesteenI, og som et Pant paa samme naadige Bifald at have ved Deres fortreffelige Broder S.T: Kmhrr B: S:II modtaget fra Dem en BrystnaalIII med Diamanter besat; – skulde Samme dog have været mig meere glimrende dersom at ieg havde modtaget denne efter at D: E:IV havde selv taget dette mit Arbeide i naadig Beskuelse; Thi maae ieg nu ansee Deres Naades yttrede Bifald blot som en Følge af det Navn ieg haver erværvet mig Udenlands; Men ieg vil haabe at naar Tiiderne tillader det, at Deres Naade ved at modtage dette mig værdiget Arbeide – vil erfare at Samme haver kostet mig baade Kraft og Flid, at omnævnte Udlæg er økonomisk beregnet til SmV 483 ScVI og at ieg beskedent skatterer min Konst og Flid for lige saa megetVII som omnævnte [papiret hullet:] [Ud]læg, følgelig at det er min kiæreste og behageligste Vinding ved dette Arbeide, at ieg herved tør smigre mig af Deres Naades gunstige Bifald og BevaagenhedVIII – Jeg anbefaler mig stedse med dybeste Ærbødighed Deres Naades underdanige Tienerer

Oversættelse af dokument

However pleasing it has been to me to learn about your ladyship’s expressed approval of the commissioned font and as a token of this gracious approval to have received from you an agraffe ornamented with diamonds through your excellent brother S.T. Baron Schubart, chamberlain; – the same should have been the more pleasing if I had received it after Your Excellency yourself had taken this my work into gracious contemplation; for am I now to consider your ladyship’s expressed approval merely as a consequence of the name I have achieved abroad; but I shall hope that when times permit it, your ladyship at receiving this me vouchsafed work – shall see that the same has cost me energy and diligence, that the mentioned expenses are economically calculated to a total of 483 Scudi and that I modestly rate my art and diligence for just as much as the mentioned [holes in the paper] expenses, so that it consequently is my dearest and most pleasant gain at this work that I by this dare indulge in your ladyship’s approval and favour – I commend myself for ever with the deeprest reverence your ladyship’s humble servant

[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

The draft was an answer to Charlotte Schimmelmann’s letter of 17.11.1808, with news from her in her brother Herman Schubart’s letters to Thorvaldsen of 26.12.1808 and 13.1.1809. The precious pin itself was sent to Thorvalsen separately. See the above-mentioned letter of 17.11.1808 from Schimmelmann for more about this and other drafts with the same contents of 4.2.1809 and 4.2.1809 from Thorvaldsen to Charlotte Schimmelmann.

Thorvaldsen’s draft to Schimmelmann of 22.10.1808 also contains an accounting of the cost of the Baptismal Font, cf. A555,1, A555,2, A555,3, A555,4, but in piastres. It is interesting that this draft and the above-mentioned draft of 22.10.1808 apparently give the recipe for Thorvaldsen’s pricing of his own works: the sum of the real expenses for materials, wages, and transport multiplied by two, so Thorvaldsen’s share corresponds to the total expenses. See the related article for more details about Thorvaldsen’s Works, Fixing Prices.

Document Type

Udkast af koncipist


C.F. Høyer

Archival Reference

m28, nr. 39


Gengivet hos Thiele II, p. 114-13.




A555_1 Kristi dåb, Tidligst juni 1807 - Senest 1808, inv.nr. A555,1
A555_2 Maria med Jesus og Johannes, Tidligst juni 1807 - Senest 1808, inv.nr. A555,2
A555_3 Tre svævende engle, Tidligst juni 1807 - Senest 1808, inv.nr. A555,3
A555_4 Kristus velsigner børnene, Tidligst juni 1807 - Senest 1808, inv.nr. A555,4


  1. The baptismal font for Brahetrolleborg Church, cf. A555,1, A555,2, A555,3, A555,4, commissioned 2.11.1804. Charlotte Schimmelmann commissioned the baptismal font as a gift to her sister Sybille Reventlow, see the related article about the baptismal font.

  2. I.e. salvo titulo, which is Latin for “without title”. The expression is used when addressing letters to indicate that the title is unknown or considered unnecessary.

  3. This precious agraffe (i.e. a pin or a clasp for clothing) is referred to as a “trifle” in Schimmelmann’s letter of 17.11.1808 and was a manifestation of Schimmelmann’s gratitude that Thorvaldsen would accept no other payment for the baptismal font, A555,1, A555,2, A555,3, A555,4, than the cost of the materials, wages, and transport, see Thorvaldsen’s draft of 22.10.1808.
    That it was an agraffe appears from Schubart’s letter of 26.12.1808, in which he reports Schimmelmann’s reaction to Thorvaldsen’s letter of 22.10.1808. The clasp is also mentioned in Schubart’s letter of 13.1.1809.

  4. Dvs. Deres Excellence.

  5. Dvs. Summa = sum, den samlede pris af.

  6. I.e. scudi. In the draft of 22.10.1808 the amount is given in piastres and set at the slightly higher price of 487 piastres, see the related article about the monetary units of the time.
    This may be an error in the writing of the monetary unit in one of the drafts as piatres were worth slightly more, and the difference in such a large amount would be considerable.

  7. Thorvaldsen probably means that the normal price of one of his works was calculated on the basis of the costs he had had for materials, wages to his assistants, and transport. If this statement can be trusted, he has set his own fee at the same amount as the total expenses, and the real price of the baptismal font should have been 966 scudi (or possibly piastres if this was a slip of the pen, cf. the previous note). Thorvaldsen, however, only asked for payment of the real expenses and contented himself with the honour and the possibility of fame in his native country. See the following note for more about this.

  8. Thorvaldsen had benefitted from the Schimmelmanns’ approval and favour before: In a letter of 26.7.1805, Herman Schubart told Thorvaldsen that the countess was probably partly responsible for Thorvaldsen’s appointment as professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1805. On 31.12.1806, Thorvaldsen had also received a commission from C.F. Hansen for four reliefs for the façade of Christiansborg Palace, which was being rebuilt during these years after the fire in 1794. On 22.4.1809 – i.e. after Thorvaldsen’s letter to Countess Schimmelmann had arrived in Copenhagen – the Building Commission for Christiansborg further requested offers for four statues for the façade. Thorvaldsen’s partial gift to the influential family has probably had the effect that the building commission for Christiansborg made inquiries about the four statues besides the reliefs; for more about this, see the related article about Thorvaldsen’s works for Christiansborg.
    This assumption is supported by Countess Schimmelmann’s own words in a letter to Herman Schubart, which were reported to Thorvaldsen in Schubart’s letter of 26.12.1808: “My husband and I rightly recognize his noble gesture towards us. Count Christian Reventlow assured me yesterday that they are using him and are going to use him even more for our reborn palace [i.e. Christiansborg Palace]. He will be given great statues to execute, bas-reliefs and more; and you, my dear brother, may rely on Reventlow’s enthusiasm for your friend Thorwaldsen, in whom Hansen also takes a great interest. This artist certainly deserves the gratitude of his country [...]”.

Last updated 27.10.2015