Portrait of Thorvaldsen, 1815
Oil on canvas. 108,0 x 78,5 cm
Inventory number: B425
This portrait is often confused with Eckersberg’s more famous portrait of Thorvaldsen, which is in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. For in both portraits the sculptor is wearing the robes in which members of the official art gallery in Rome, the Academy of S Luca, dressed on official occasions. Thorvaldsen was in fact not only a member of this academy, but from 1808 had been given the title of professor.
The reason for the similarity between the two portraits is not known for sure. A probable explanation is that Vogelstein sat side by side to paint Thorvaldsen’s body using a gliedermann (a wooden jointed dummy such as artists since the Renaissance have used instead of a live model to fix difficult positions and drapery). A closer inspection, however, shows that the two portraits also contain many differences: the light, the atmosphere and not least the psychological element. The transfigured look given to Thorvaldsen by Vogelstein expresses a Romantic sensitivity that is far removed from Eckersberg and the Danish Golden Age.