Portræt af Thorvaldsen
C.W. Eckersberg
: Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
: 02.01.1783
: 22.07.1853
: dansk
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Portrait of Thorvaldsen, 1820

Oil on canvas. 49,7 x 40,0 cm
Inventory number: B454

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While in Rome in 1814, Eckersberg painted several portraits of Thorvaldsen. This one was painted during the only visit Thorvaldsen paid to Denmark during the more than 40 years he spent in Rome. The sculptor seems to be taking a break from his work in making a marble sculpture, of which only the foot makes its presence felt in the bottom left of the picture. His hand is resting on the hammer, and he is perhaps viewing his work. Meanwhile, his eyes are not directed towards the part of the sculpture we can see, i.e the foot at the bottom of the picture. It looks rather as though he is looking up towards the part of the sculpture that is beyond the edge of the frame. However, it is at the same time as though his cool gaze is really being attracted by something else further away – the source of light perhaps – and as though, when it comes to the point, he is looking behind the sculpture. By directing his gaze in this way, Eckersberg is thus able to suggest that at the same time as working with his materials the sculptor is also paying attention to what is behind or above the work – the overall idea, the meaning behind it. Or, put in another way: that the sculptor’s work consists of equal parts of skill and spirit.