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Bertel Thorvaldsen

Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) was a Danish sculptor of European renown. Born in Copenhagen in 1770 (1768 according to some), he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in that city, winning all the prizes including the large Gold Medal. As a consequence, he was granted a royal stipend, enabling him to complete his studies in Rome. As it happened, he spent most of his active life there (1797-1838).

Thorvaldsen was an outstanding representative of the Neo-Classical period in sculpture - often compared to Canova but, in fact, more than the Italian artist embodying the style of classical Greek art.

Motives for his works (reliefs[?], statues, and busts) were mostly from Greek mythology, but he also created portraits of important personalities, as the statue of Pope Pius VII. His works can be seen in many European countries, and especially in the Thorvaldsen Museum (http://www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk/shownewslist.asp?ID=17) in Copenhagen, where his tomb is in the inner courtyard.

Outside Europe, Thorvaldsen is less well known (but see the important paper by Dimmick below). Curiously, however, his statue of Christ (created for what is now the Lutheran Cathedral in Copenhagen) has appealed to the Mormons (see: http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/daily/history/1945_present/christus_eom.htm ).

A bronze copy of Thorvaldsen's Self-Portrait stands in the Central Park, New York, near the East 97 Street entrance.

Lauretta Dimmick, "Mythic Proportion: Bertel Thorvaldsen's Influence in America", Thorvaldsen: l'ambiente, l'influsso, il mito, ed. P. Kragelund and M. Nykjśr, Rome 1991 (Analecta Romana Instituti Danici, Supplementum 18.), pp. 169-191.

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