21.2.1807

Sender

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Sender’s Location

Rom

Information on sender

Rester af Thorvaldsens eget laksegl i rødt. Læs mere om lakseglet ved at klikke på gengivelsen af det nederst på denne side.
Brevet er stemplet: ROMA

Recipient

Herman Schubart

Recipient’s Location

Pisa

Information on recipient

Udskrift: A Monsieur / Monsieur le Baron de Schubart, / Chevalier de l’Ordre de Dannebrogue, / Chambellan de S.M. Danoise, Son Mini- / stre plenipotentiaire et Intendant / général du Commerce Danois en Italie / à / Pisa

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af brevet.

Abstract

Thorvaldsen has received commissions from C.F. Hansen and the Building Commission for Christiansborg Palace. He is to execute four reliefs for the facade of Christiansborg and two statues, a decoration for a pediment, and two reliefs for the facade of the town hall and courthouse in Copenhagen. He is sorry that Hansen does not want the two statues executed in marble but in a poorer stone.
He is going to start the four reliefs when he has finished modelling Hebe, A37.

Document

Rom d 21de Februr 1807

Til behagelig efterretning har jeg hermed den ære at melde Deres Eccellenza, at jeg har bekommet BrevI fra Hr Professor HansenII, hvori han underretter mig at CommissionenIII har for det førsteIV bestemt følgende Arbejder for mig. Fire ronde Bas-rilieffiV af vid Marmor, som skal have en AlogorriVI paa de i NiskerneVII staaende FegurerVIII, forestillende Retfærdighed, SundhedIX Klogskab, og Styrke, disse 4r Fegurer bliver giorde af Sandsteen, af Hr Professor DajonX, oven over disse Nisker, kommer de fire MedailliongerXI, som holder 2 alen og 9 tommeXII dansk Maael i Diameter, som jeg skal forfærdige, og som kommer til at staae paa det Kongelige Slots PortaletXIII, Commissionen saa vel som Hr Professor Hansen overlader ganske til mig selv at velge Sujetter her til, kun ønskes saa lidet i verXIV som muligt, for at faa en passende Størelse, da de kommer temmelig høyt for OyetXV. Til det nye Raad og DuomhuusXVI skal jeg Componere og Modellere en liden Model til FrontespidsenXVII og to ronde MedaillionerXVIII, hvor efter de skal udføres i det store paa Stædet i Stuk, foruden dette er to Fegurer der bliver 4 Alen høyeXIX, skal forestille de 2de første Lovgivere Solon og LücurgusXX, Professor Hansen mener om der var i Rom eller i nerheden en blød Steen, hvoraf disse to Figurer uden al for stoer Bekostning, kunde udføres om jeg da vilde giøre den, i manglende fald blodt vilde skikke ham en Model af en ver, hvor efter han vil lade den udføre i Sandsteen. Det giør mig unt at disse tvende ærværdige Lovgivere saa caracteristiske Fegurer og smukke Custümer for Konsten, ikke skal udføres i det ringesteXXI i ordinær MarmorXXII, da jeg t[r]oer at der kun vil blive lidet forskel paa Prisen imod deres vær som de har i Marmor, saa meget mere da de kommer til at staa nær for Øyet, og under Tag. Saa stor Lyst som jeg endog har til at udføre disse to Fegurer, saa kan jeg dog ikke bestemme mig til at giøre dem af ensaadan slet Steen her i Rom i besønderlighed. Jeg har skreven Professor Hansen tilXXIII, angaaende de to Fegurer har jeg ytredt mit Ønske, at vilde giøre dem af Marmor, samt bedet Professoren om at forrestille Commissionen om en forstrækkning af om[trent papiret mangler] Et Tusende PiasterXXIV, staaende hos en Banquer her eller i Livorno, hvoraf jeg kunde tage efter Haanden til de løbende udgifter, saa at jeg ikke kan stanses i Arbejdet ved tabbet af et brev elle[r] V[e]xel, og saaledes opfylde Commisionens Ønske at forfærdig disse Arbejder saa snart som mulig. til de 4r BasriliefsXXV har jeg allerrede bestilt MarmorXXVI og saa snart jeg har min HebeXXVII modellert begynder jeg strax paa at modellere disse Basreliefs til Slottet –
Det vilde være mig umulig og aaverflødigt at fremsette her den Glæde jeg føler; Da jeg er overbevist at Deres Eccellen[za] kjender mig, at jeg med den beste Villige til at giøre vad jeg kan og anbefaler mig til Deres Eccellenzes bevaagenhedXXVIII, hvormed jeg har den Ære at forblive Der[e]s Eccellenza

underdanigste Tiener
B Thorvaldsen

Oversættelse af dokument

Rome, February 21st 1807

For your information I hereby have the honour to announce to Your Excellency that I have received a letter from professor Hansen, in which he informs me that the Commission initially has decided the following works for me. Four round bas-reliefs in white marble, which are to have an allegory of the figures in the niches, representing justice, health, wisdom, and strength, these four figures will be made of sandstone, by professor Dajon, placed above these niches are the four medallions, which are 2 alen and 9 tommer Danish measure in diameter, which I am to make, and which will stand on the portal of the royal palace, the Commission as well as professor Hansen leave it completely to me to choose subjects for these, they only wish as little in each as possible, to achieve a reasonable size, as they will be high up to the eyes. For the new town hall and court house I am going to compose and model a small model for the pediment and two round medallions, after which they are to be enlarged in situ in stucco, besides this there are two figures which will be 4 alen high and represent the two first legislators Solon and Lycurgos, professor Hansen is of the opinion that if there is a soft stone in Rome or in the neighbourhood from which these two figures without too great expenses could be made I should make them, if this is not the case could I then send him a model of each, after which he would have it made in sandstone. I am sorry that these two venerable legislators so characteristic figures and beautiful dresses for art, shall not in the least be made in ordinary marble, as I think that there will only be a small difference in the price compared to the value they have in marble, the more so as they will be close to the eyes, and under cover. Much as I feel like making these two figures, I can not decide for me to make them of such a bad stone particularly here in Rome. I have written to professor Hansen, regarding the two figures I have expressed my wish, to want to make them in marble, as well as asked the professor to present to the commission an advance of [about paper missing] one thousand piaster, kept at a banker here or in Leghorn, from which I might draw little by little for current expenses, so that I am not stopped in my work because of the loss of a letter or a bill of exchange, and thus fulfil the wish of the Commission to make these works as soon as possible. I have already ordered marble for the four bas-reliefs and as soon as I have finished modelling my Hebe I shall immediately begin modelling these bas-reliefs for the palace -
It would be impossible and needless here to express the joy I feel; As I am convinced that Your Excellency knows me, that I am most willing to do what I can and I commend myself to Your Excellency’s favour, by which I have the honour to remain Your Excellency’s

Most humble servant,
B. Thorvaldsen


[Translated by Karen Husum]

General Comment

This letter was acquired for Thorvaldsens Museum in 1937 in exchange for a Thorvaldsen signature to an autograph collector, see THM journal no 5-25/1936. Until then, the letter had been privately owned, and for that reason Thiele did not know about the letter.

Document Type

Færdigt egenhændigt dokument

Archival Reference

m28A I, nr. 3

Thiele

Omtalt hos Thiele II, p. 78, men ikke kendt af ham.

Subjects

Persons

Works

A317 Herkules og Hebe, 1808, inv.nr. A317
A318 Hygieia og Æskulap, 1808, inv.nr. A318
A319 Minerva og Prometheus, 1807-1808, inv.nr. A319
A320 Nemesis og Jupiter, 1810, inv.nr. A320
A316 Jupiter, Minerva og Nemesis, ca 1822, inv.nr. A316
A37 Hebe, 1806, inv.nr. A37

Commentaries

  1. See letter of 31.12.1806.
    Thorvaldsen had long expected the commission from the Danish state that he received in Hansen’s letter, cf. the pleasure he mentions at the end of this letter.

  2. I.e. the Danish architect C.F. Hansen.

  3. I.e. the Building Commission for Christiansborg Palace.

  4. Dvs. indtil videre, se betydning 6.2. af først i Ordbog over det danske Sprog.

  5. I.e. the four allegorical reliefs that Thorvaldsen executed for Christiansborg Palace:
    Strength: Hercules and Hebe, cf. A317,
    Health: Hygieia and Aesculapius, cf. A318,
    Wisdom: Minerva and Prometheus, cf. A319,
    Justice: Nemesis and Jupiter, cf. A320.

  6. Dvs. allegori.
    Som flere andre af de stavefejl, der findes i dette brev, er de sandsynligvis betinget af Thorvaldsens ordblindhed, der støttede sig på hans (lav)københavnske sociolekt. Se mere herom i Thorvaldsens tale- og skriftsprog.

  7. Dvs. nicherne. Stavemåden er nu forældet, se Ordbog over det danske Sprog.

  8. Dvs. Figurer.

  9. This undoubtedly says sundhed (health), but in his letter of 31.12.1806, Hansen wrote sandhed (truth). Thorvaldsen, then, must have misread the word.
    This passage is, as far as we know, the first time Hansen’s truth becomes Thorvaldsens health in writing.
    Schubart naturally repeats the mistake in his answer of 9.3.1807, but he is not the author of the mistake even though Thiele II, p. 79 suggests that this might be the case – understandably enough as he did not know of this letter.

  10. I.e. the Danish sculptor Nicolai Dajon.
    However, he was not the one to execute the four figures as it seems to have been decided here. Instead, the task was later given to Thorvaldsen, see more in the Commission for Christiansborg Palace.

  11. I.e. the above-mentioned four round bas-reliefs.

  12. Alen (ca. 2 feet) and Tommer (= inches) are old Danish length units corresponding to 2×62,77 cm + 9×2,615 cm = 149,01 cm.
    This fits with the actual diameter of the four above-mentioned reliefs.

  13. I.e. that the reliefs were placed on the façade of the palace.

  14. Thorvaldsen quotes the following sentence word for word from Hansen’s letter of 31.12.1806.
    The idea of the sentence is that the building commission for Christiansborg Palace wanted the reliefs to depict as few figures as possible so that the subjects could be seen clearly at a distance from the palace square.

  15. Dvs. øjet.

  16. I.e. C.F. Hansen’s Town Hall and Courthouse on Nytorv in Copenhagen, today just the Courthouse. The building was finished in 1817.
    The works that Thorvaldsen mentions here were not made for the courthouse, see more about the project in the Commission for the Copenhagen Town Hall and Courthouse.

  17. For the pediment Hansen had asked for “an appropriate allegorical bas-relief”, cf. 31.12.1806. The pediment is empty today, but Thorvaldsen did make the sketch Jupiter, Minerva and Nemesis, which in 1822 probably became A316. Instead, this sketch was used for the pediment on the façade of Christiansborg, see more about this in the Commission for Christiansborg Palace and the Commission for the Copenhagen Town Hall and Courthouse.

  18. These medallions were never made, see the Commission for the Copenhagen Town Hall and Courthouse.
    The round panels where the medallions were to have been placed can still be seen today – empty – on the courthouse façade.

  19. Alen is an old Danish length unit corresponding to 4×62,77 cm = 251,08 cm, i.e. monumental statues slightly taller than e.g. Jason, A822.

  20. I.e. the Athenian statesman Solon (ca 638 – ca 560 BC) was called one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece and is known for the quotation: Nothing in excess.
    Lycurgus appears to have been a historical figure in the 700s BC and was known for his Spartan legislation.
    Neither of the two statues was made, but the empty niches are still seen on the façade of the courthouse today, see more in the Commission for the Copenhagen Town Hall and Courthouse.

  21. Dvs. i det mindste, se betydning 1.3. af ringe i Ordbog over det danske Sprog.

  22. Hansen’s suggestion to save money by not choosing marble was most likely the reason why Thorvaldsen never executed the two statues, see more about this in the Commission for the Copenhagen Town Hall and Courthouse.
    Thorvaldsen’s use of the expression ordinary marble refers to different qualities of marble. The finest marble from Carrara was as white and immaculate as possible. Other less fine qualities of marble must have been available on the market. See more about this in Thorvaldsen’s Workshop Practice.

  23. See Thorvaldsen’s letter of 16.2.1807 to Hansen, in which the sculptor expresses his wish to produce the two statues in marble, cf. the following sentence.

  24. Thorvaldsen’s request for an advance was met, see the answer of 16.5.1807 from the Building Commission for Christiansborg Palace.

  25. I.e. the four above-mentioned medallions for Christiansborg Palace.

  26. Thorvaldsen also mentions this in his answer to Hansen 16.2.1807.

  27. I.e. Thorvaldsen’s statue Hebe, A37, which he was modelling at this time.

  28. With this commendation of himself, Thorvaldsen probably hoped that Schubart would use his connections in Copenhagen to persuade C.F. Hansen to have the two statues of Solon and Lycurgus executed in marble.
    This actually happened, see Schubart’s answer of 9.3.1807.

Last updated 18.11.2015