Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), son of an Icelandic woodcarver, grew up in Copenhagen, where he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1781 to train as a sculptor, at the age of only 11 years. The young artist left for Rome in 1787, where he gravitated around the community of his fellow Danish emigrants. Among them were the antiquarian and scholar Jörgen Zoëga (1755-1809) and the painter and critic Asmus Jacob Carstens (1754-1798). Both had a considerable influence on Thorvaldsen’s development as an artist, particularly with regard to his study of classical sculpture and the theories of the famous archaeologist Johan Joachim Winkelmann.
On the death of Antonio Canova in 1822, Thorvaldsen became the oldest and most respected sculptor in Rome, as confirmed by commissions such as the funerary monument to Pope Pius VII in St. Peter’s Basilica (1823-31), and appointments such as the presidency of the prestigious Accademia di San Luca (1828), a position previously held by Canova.
Discover the sculptures by Bertel Thorvaldsen and other artists in our gallery.