Alexander the Great Sets Fire to Persepolis, 1865
Executed by Brynjulf Larsen Bergslien and Christian Constantin Olsen under the supervision of H.W. Bissen after the original plaster model 1832, inv.no. A515
Marble. 95 x 198 cm
Inventory number: A514
In Thorvaldsen’s work, Alexander the Great is mainly associated with the so-called Alexander Frieze from 1812, which portrays Alexander’s entry into Babylon. And although the figures of Alexander in the two reliefs certainly show some similarities, what we see here it is a quite different aspect of Alexander’s personality: In the Alexander Frieze he is coming to Babylon as a peace-loving hero – indeed as a god. In this relief he is drunk and is allowing himself to be tempted by his mistress to carry out a terrible deed: to set fire to the capital city of the Persians, Persepolis. Among the other figures we can see Alexander’s friend Parmenio, who is attempting to restrain him, while on the far left a Persian can be seen leaving in despair.