Bertel Thorvaldsen

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Thorvaldsen, Bertel


(also B. Thorwaldsen). Born Nov. 13 (or 19), 1768 (or 1770), in Copenhagen; died there Mar. 24, 1844. Danish sculptor.

Thorvaldsen, one of the greatest representatives of late classicism, studied at the Academy of Arts in Copenhagen from 1781 to 1793. From 1797 to 1838 he lived in Naples and Rome, where he studied classical sculpture and the works of Raphael. Thorvaldsen became president of the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome in 1825 and of the Academy of Arts in Copenhagen in 1833. He worked predominantly in marble.

Like the sculptures of A. Canova, Thorvaldsen’s works tend toward the idealization and cool detachment characteristic of academic European art of the 19th century. They are distinguished for their masterful use of marble, strict compositional harmony, and static, restrained serenity. Notable examples are the statues Jason (1802–3; Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen) and MercuryWith a Flute (1818) and the monumental frieze The Campaign of Alexander the Great (1818; the Villa Carlotta, on Lake Como).

Thorvaldsen also executed a number of portrait statues, including E. A. Osterman-Tolstaia (c. 1815–19; the Hermitage, Leningrad). His main works are housed in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen.


Lunacharskii, A. V. “Torval’dsen.” In his Stat’i ob iskusstve. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Meddelelser fra Thorwaldsens Museum. Copenhagen, 1929. (Publication in progress.)
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