Underneath the Drawing by Raphael‏ -

A Journey through Thorvaldsen’s Extensive Collection of Drawings

From June 23 to September 13, 2009

The exhibition in Thorvaldsens Museum presented a selection from Thorvaldsen’s great collection of almost 2000 drawings that he acquired from the many European artists who lived and worked in Rome in the 19th century. The fragile drawings are normally hidden away in cupboards and drawers in order to protect them from the daylight. However, among these drawings there are some extremely interesting works by artists such as Joseph Anton Koch, Asmus Jakob Carstens and C.F.F. Stanley, and these works are now being put on public display.

The drawings provide a unique insight into Thorvaldsen’s private taste in art, and they are a fascinating source of information on the life surrounding the world-famous sculptor and associated with the international artistic milieu in Rome in the 19th century.

Underneath the Drawing by Raphael

Not only did Thorvaldsen have an eye for contemporary art, but he also had the opportunity to acquire some drawings by the older masters from the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the works to be seen in this exhibition is a drawing of the Virgin and Child, which Thorvaldsen himself was convinced was by Raphael, and which was so dear to him that it hung above his bed in his apartment in Rome. Unfortunately, later research has demonstrated that the drawing was a fake.

Thorvaldsen’s friend the Danish consul general Baron Herman Schubart (1756-1832) often stayed with Thorvaldsen when he was in Rome, and in a letter to the sculptor he writes: “… I intend next month again to burden you with my presence and to live in the lovely little room with the bed underneath the drawing by Raphael…”

The Revolutionary Asmus Jakob Carstens

Visitors to the exhibition will make the acquaintance of some of the artists who were among the Danish sculptor’s friends during his youth, and all of whom were considered to be revolutionary and progressive. Carstens (1754-1798) was so revolutionary that he was expelled from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, but his numerous drawings were an inspiration both to Thorvaldsen and to the friend they had in common, Joseph Anton Koch, with whom Thorvaldsen at one time shared an apartment in Rome.

C.F.F. Stanley – an architectural genius

It has been said of the architect Carl Ferdinand Stanley (1768-1805) that he could have become for architecture what Thorvaldsen was for sculpture. During his own time he was proclaimed as one of the greatest architects of the future. However, he did not manage to leave any buildings of substance when he died in Rome as early as 1805, a few days after his 36th birthday. He was a close friend of Thorvaldsen, and the two carried out a close and intimate correspondence.

After the death of the young Stanley, many of his drawings were taken over by Thorvaldsen, and in these it is possible to see an architecture with radical qualities reminiscent of the great French revolutionary architects Étienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicola Ledoux. They are architectural projects of a kind quite unusual in a Danish context.

Thorvaldsen’s Many Collections

Thorvaldsen acquired some incredibly rich collections, not least during the more than 40 years he spent in Rome from 1798 to1838. And all the various parts of these collections were incorporated into Thorvaldsens Museum. In addition to the original models for his own works and the more than 1000 drawings he made, his collections consisted of paintings, relics from Antiquity, books, medals, graphic works and just under 2000 drawings by other artists. It is part of this collection which is at the centre of this summer’s exhibition.

The exhibition has been arranged by art student Jakob Helbo and
art student Morten La Cour.

J.A. Koch: Giganternes kamp med Kroniderne J.A. Koch: The Giants fight with the Gods.

J.A. Koch: Giganternes kamp med Kroniderne Ernst Meyer: Italian woman seated with her child.

J.A. Koch: Giganternes kamp med Kroniderne C.F. Stanley:Theater in Roman style, 1803.

J.A. Koch: Giganternes kamp med Kroniderne J.A. Koch: Dante and Virgil conveyed by the monster Geryon, 1800-1822.

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