The Major Gold Medal obverse: King Frederik 5 of Denmark. The medal reverse: Justice Sent Round to three Genii
Gold. 42 mm diameter
Inventory number: F35
Obverse: Portrait of King Frederik V.
Reverse: Justice (a woman holding scales) – guided by Minerva (symbolising wisdom), who is presenting the wreath of honour to the three arts: sculpture, architecture and painting (symbolised respectively by a portrait bust, a drawing and a painter’s palette and brushes being held out by three children).
The Major Gold Medal was the greatest distinction that could be achieved while training in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art. A competition was organised each year with a predetermined motif for respectively painters, sculptors and architects, and if an artist was awarded the Major Gold Medal, he was entitled to apply for a three-year scholarship for further training abroad. However, no more than two artists were allowed to travel abroad at the same time, and although Thorvaldsen was awarded the Major Gold Medal in 1793, he was not able to embark on his great journey abroad until the autumn of 1796. This was a journey that led to his spending more than 40 years in Rome. The obverse of the medal is decorated with a portrait of Frederik V because it was he who had founded the Academy in 1754 and instituted the medal. And the representation on the reverse of the honour of receiving the medal is supplemented with the word MERENTI, which means “to him who deserves”. Exhibited in Gallery 38 in the Museum.