Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844)

Bertel Thorvaldsen was the first critically acclaimed Danish artist and an outstanding example of the Neoclassical style of sculpture. The son of an Icelandic wood-carver who settled in Denmark, Thorvaldsen studied at the Copenhagen Academy and won a traveling scholarship to Rome, where he was to live most of his life. In Italy, the prevailing enthusiasm for classical sculpture ignited his imagination so much that he later celebrated the date of his arrival in 1797 as his Roman Birthday.

The success of Thorvaldsen s model for a statue of Jason and the Golden Fleece attracted the attention of the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova and launched Thorvaldsen on one of the most successful careers of the 19th century.

Thorvaldsen created numerous sculptural works inspired by Greek mythology, such as Hebe, the Goddess of Youth and Eros and Dionysus. He also sculpted portraits of important contemporary personalities and historic figures.

Per his final wishes, much of Bertel Thorvaldsen s fortune was donated to the endowment of a Neoclassical museum in Copenhagen that began construction in 1939. Housed in the museum are his art collections and the models for all his sculptures. Thorvaldsen also expressed to be buried in the museum and his body was laid to rest, as he so desired.


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