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Sleeping Roman Peasant with Horse and Donkies, 1834
Etching. 153 x 235 mm
Inventory number: E753
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“As I hear, Sir, that you are to remain in Copenhagen for some time yet, I take the liberty of once more sending some of my new etchings for your collection.” So wrote Johann Adam Klein in his letter to Thorvaldsen dated 20 September 1839. A letter in which this very etching is among those to which he refers. Klein apparently set his package to Thorvaldsen without being asked. And Klein’s excuse was that he was at this time sending some of his etchings to the bookseller Reitzel in Copenhagen. It would cost him neither more nor less to send the package even if he included something for Thorvaldsen.
Twenty years before this, Klein had gone from his native Nuremberg to Rome. That was in August 1819, and he remained in Rome for 2½ years. In other words, Klein was in Rome when Thorvaldsen returned after his visit to Copenhagen 1819-20. During the many journeys he undertook as a young man, Klein always made copious drawings. He was in particular interested in rural scenes, including domestic animals. And when he subsequently turned his drawings into graphics, he could do so almost without needing to make any changes. We can only guess at how much Thorvaldsen appreciated the more than two hundred etchings that he received from Klein over the years.