The Thorvaldsen Medal obverse: Portrait of Thorvaldsen. The medal reverse: Denmark presented with Thorvaldsen's Cupid with the Lyre by Galathea, 1838
Cupid with the Lyre after Thorvaldsen's sculpture Inv.no. A786
Silver. 61 mm diameter
Inventory number: F14
Obverse: Portrait of Thorvaldsen in profile. Around his head a border representing Thorvaldsen’s Alexander Frieze.
Reverse: Symbolical presentation of the arrival in Denmark of Thorvaldsen’s works.
The medal continues to be awarded as the highest mark of distinction conferred by the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art during its anniversary celebrations on the birthday of Frederik V on the 31st of March. The medal was instituted by King Christian VIII in 1837, and it was the intention that Thorvaldsen should be awarded the first in 1838. However, problems arose in connection with the dies that were to be used for striking the medal, and it was not until 1842 that the medal was finished. This medal is in homage of Thorvaldsen (who is portrayed along with one of his most famous works, the long relief frieze Alexander the Great’s Entry into Babylon) and an expression of gratitude for Thorvaldsen’s having donated his collections and the original models of his works to Denmark. This is expressed on the reverse of the medal through a portrait of the woman Dania (Denmark) sitting by the sea with a shield emblazoned with the three Danish lions and a trident, and receiving Thorvaldsen’s sculpture Cupid with the Lyre from the sea nymph Galathea, who is borne over the sea by a dolphin. One of the first ships bringing Thorvaldsen’s works home to Denmark was called the Galathea. Exhibited in Gallery 38 in the Museum.