Portrait of Thorvaldsen modelling the bust of Vernet, 1833
The bust after Thorvaldsen's Inv.no. A254
Oil on canvas. 99,8 x 75,2 cm
Inventory number: B95
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Vernet was the director of the French Academy in Rome when he painted his friend Thorvaldsen. The sculptor is seen in his working smock and with a modelling tool in his hand. On the modelling stand, on which he is supporting himself, there is a bust of Vernet that Thorvaldsen started about 1830. So in a certain sense, the painter has incorporated himself into the portrait of his sculptor friend. He was obviously keen to make the painting more personal than was the case with ordinary commissions. He has wanted to preserve a record of the friendship existing between the two. So on the edge of the modelling stand, he has also formulated a dedication to his model: Horace Vernet à Son Illustre ami Torwaldsen Rome 1833.
That Thorvaldsen reciprocated Vernet’s feelings of friendship emerges from the fact that after finishing the bust of Vernet seen in the painting, he also started a large-scale bust of him in marble. This stands today in the entrance hall to the Museum.