Sculpture Journal

Thorvaldsen’s marble connections

Sculpture Journal (2021), 30, (2), 163–175.

Abstract

Although one of the most celebrated sculptors of the nineteenth century, little is known about Bertel Thorvaldsen’s relationship with the white marble he sculpted from. Today, scholars generally accept that Thorvaldsen knew how to sculpt in marble; however, for many years - including during his own lifetime - people regarded his investment in the white stone as somewhat detached. Taking the debate around Thorvaldsen’s marble-carving skills as a point of departure, this article analyses the evidence at hand: the marble sculptures themselves as preserved in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. Exploring the preserved surface textures on selected marble works, this article argues that Thorvaldsen engaged and experimented with different types of textural effects and marble types, revealing a yet unseen sensitivity towards the historic and symbolic significance layered in the stones themselves.

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Author details

Skovmøller, Amalie