When I was young and beginning my very first steps towards art appreciation, for some reason, I never found myself drawn to Sculptures. On my days at the AGO with a school trip or even just on my own, I would always skip the sculpture gallery and spend most of my time in front of the paintings, drawing and modern art installations. It was only as I got into my twenties and started studying Art History in University that Sculptures began to take on a new meaning. Suddenly I couldn't stop looking at them, collecting books on the subject and hoarding hundreds of pictures on my computer from searches on the Internet. My pilgrimage to Italy was largely influenced by my desire to see these art forms in person, be able to look into their eyes and, in some case, even touch their cold marble flesh. But throughout all my time researching and studying sculpture, a name I never came across was "Thorvaldsen". It wasn't until I stumbled upon the steps of his Museum in Copenhagen, that I honestly knew how deep my love, of his work and the craft of sculpture, could go.
The Thorvaldsen Museum is unique in the fact that it houses works from one single artist, that of Bertel Thorvaldsen. The art displayed in the museum spans Thorvaldsen's entire career and even contains pieces of work the museum had to fight to bring into their collection from their original home in Rome (where most of his work was commissioned). The Museum is a delicately and lovingly curated experience and takes you on an intimate journey throughout his lifetime of moments frozen in marble.
Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen and was a prodigy at an extremely young age. His father was a wood carver, and as he watched his father, he developed a strong sense of forms and construction. This quickly turned into a full blown love affair with sculpting and at the age of eleven, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Arts. After several awards and mass recognition in Denmark, Thorvaldsen was offered a space to study under great masters of fine arts in Rome. It was in Rome that the young sculptor quickly found notoriety and fame.
After a long career working for the nobility in Rome, he retired in his hometown of Copenhagen. A museum was established to house his work in honour of his amazing achievement. Now, Thorvaldsen rests eternally amongst his masterpieces, buried in the centre of the Museum's courtyard.
The first room you come across seems larger than life, and the sculptures housed inside of it are just as such. His draperies and almost too lifelike. They seem to shiver and shake with every echo that comes down the hall.
This smaller collection of sculptures are his a representation of his larger commissions, for nobility, conquering heroes and even religious figure. Although stunning, these sculptures of real men of the world are not as intimate and ethereal as the world of myths and legends he was so passionate about. But these are incredible things to see. This sculpture of Pope Pius the 7th, designed to memorialize his death, was erect in St. Peter's Church in 1831. A stupendous achievement for a Danish born sculptor and the only work from a non-Italian artist to be housed inside the St. Peter's Church.
By far, my most favoured works of his are the Greek Myths and legends he brings to life. In the cold, hard marble he manages to bring an uncanny softness and warmth into the lips, fingertips and bodies of each character. Above, we see Cupid and Psyche, wrapped in a loving embrace. Their bodies almost melting into one as they lean against each other. The veining of the marble darkens on Pyches face - almost like a tear drop falling from her eyes - almost in awareness of the sadness that will befall these two lovers.
In this sculpture, two women encircle the central goddess, Venus, who son Cupid, lies at their feet. Take a look at the number of hands in this sculpture; there almost seem to be too many of them. They appear to touch, hold and caress every part of each other's bodies, keeping an almost invisible barrier around them - protecting the child below.
Love and beauty are two constant themes that run through the veins of Thorvaldsen work. Above we see Venus staring at the apple which Paris gave her to designate her as the fairest of all the Goddesses. Below we see Cupid and his arrow of love - the object that creates life on Earth. Such power is given to such a young boy. This gaze seems to almost reflect the feelings of sculptor himself as he was such an influential sculptor at such an early age, so much weight on his shoulders to create ever more beautiful pieces of artwork.
But the museum doesn't only house Thorvaldsen sculptures; it also is the home to hundreds of his sketches and drawings as well as his enormous collection of art and ephemeral objects from Greek, Roman and Egyptians Antiquity.
You will feel truly blessed to experience this place for yourself, and I cannot express more what I trip here during your stay in Copenhagen will do for your soul as well as expose you to, in my opinion, my most beloved sculptor of all time.