1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thorwaldsen, Bertel
THORWALDSEN, BERTEL (1770-1844) Danish sculptor, the son of an Icelander who had settled in Denmark, and there carried on the trade of a wood-carver, was born in Copenhagen on the 19th of November 1770. While very young he leamt to assist his father; at the age of deven he entered the Copen- hagen school of art, and soon began to show his exceptional talents. In 1792 he won the highest prize, the travelling student- ship, and in 1796 he started for Italy in a Danish man-of-war. On the 8th of March 1797 he arrived in Rome, where Canova was at the height of his popularity. Thorwaldscn's first success was the model for a statue of Jason, which was highly praised by Canova, and he received the commission to execute it in marble from Thomas Hope, a wealthy English art-patron. From that lime Thorwaldsen's success was assured, and he did not leave Italy for twenty-three years. In 1819 he returned to Dcn- markÂ» where he was commissioned to make the colossal series of statue? of Christ and the twelve apostles which are now in the Fruenkirche in Copenhagen. These were executed after his return to Rome, and were not completed till 1838, when Thor- waldsen again returned to Denmark. He died suddenly in the Copenhagen theatre on the 24th of March 2844 and bequeathed a great part of his fortune for the building and endowment of a museum in Copenhagen, and also left to fill it all his collection of works of art and the models for all his sculptureâ€” a very large collection, exhibited to the greatest possible advantage. Tbonraldsea is buried in the courtyard of this museum, under a bed of roses, by his own special wish..
On the whole Thorwaldsen was the most successful of aU the imitaton of classical sculpture, and many of his statues of pagan deities are modelled with much of the antique feeling for breadth and purity of design. His attempts at Christian sculpture, such as the tomb of Pius VII. in St Peter's and the " Christ and Apostles " at Copenhagen, are kss successful, and were not in accordance with the sculptor's real sympathies, which were purely dassic. Thorwaldsen worked sometimes with fe\'erish eagerness; at other times he was idle for many months together. A great number of his best works exist in private collections in England. His not very successful statue of Lord Byron, after being ref osed a place in Westminster Abbey, was finally de- posited in the library of Trinity CoUege, Cambridge. The most widely popular among Thorwaldsen's works have been some of his baÂ»-relicfs, such as the " Night ** and the " Morning," which he is said to have modelled in one day.
See Eugène Plon. Thorwaldsen, sa vie, &c. (Paris, 1880); Andersen, B. Thorwaldsen (Berlin. 1845): Killerup. Thorwaldsen's Arbeiten, &c (Copenhagen, 1852): Thieie, Thormaldsen's Leben (Leipzig. 1852-1856): C A. Rosenberg. Thorwaldsen … mit 146 Abbildungen (1896: "Künstlermonographien." No. 16): S. Trier, Thorvaldsen (1903); A. Wilde, Erindringer om Jerickau og Thorvaldsen (1884).