Copenhagen

Thorvaldsens Museum

Thorvaldsens Museum
Thorvaldsens Museum

I’ve mentioned a couple times before in this blog, and I will no doubt mention it again in future posts, but I’m not a lover of art galleries. Even if I do like some of the works installed there, I tend to get bored very quickly and easily in art galleries.

I go to galleries when I’m travelling in Europe because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re travelling in Europe. Besides, I desperately want to save myself from having to listen to people back home mock me in a disapproving, snobbish tone, “You went all the way to __fill in the blank__ and you didn’t go to __fill in the blank__. Are you out of your freaking mind?” (Depending on the person, they might use a word other than “freaking.”)

Yes, I am out of my mind. Take that as a given. But I’m not so crazy as to want to give you and your friends the opportunity to say that sort crap to me and look down on me in the most condescending of fashions. So I go to major art galleries when widely held opinion says I’m supposed to.

Thorvaldsen's Sculptures
Thorvaldsen’s Sculptures

The above was a longer than necessary way of introducing the fact that I visited the Thorvadsens Museum when I was in Copenhagen. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. That’s not just because they call it a museum, not a gallery. The facility’s primary function is to house artwork, principally sculptures, rather than to, say, display fossilized dinosaur skeletons, mummies, Ming tomb artifacts or suits of armour from knights gone by. So, no matter what they call it, it’s an art gallery in my book. And I liked it. Go figure.

Thorvadsens Museum is, with the exception of the occasional special exhibition, dedicated to a single artist, Bertel Thorvaldsen. (Don’t ask me why the guide books and the English pages of museum’s web site don’t use an apostrophe when it is the museum of Thorvadsen and, therefore, well deserving of an apostrophe to indicate the possessive form, but they don’t, so I didn’t.)

Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Swedish sculptor who lived from 1770 to 1844.

I suppose one of the reasons I liked the gallery, besides it being in a great old building, is that it’s not huge. Plus, the sculptures knocked me out. Not literally, of course. Fortunately, sculptures don’t tend to do that sort of thing, except maybe in some sort of funky, modern, experiential gallery. I just meant that I was almost enthralled with them. (I’m an emotional cripple who is enthralled with pretty much nothing, so “almost enthralled” is close to the top ranking I can give anything.)

Thorvaldsen's Grave
Thorvaldsen’s Grave

I can’t shake the feeling that if I tell any art scholars that I really liked Thorvaldsen’s sculptures they’ll look down their noses at me, slap an “art Philistine” sticker on my forehead and affix it there with super glue so others will know to avoid me rather than risk being infected with my bourgeois tastes. So be it. I really liked most of the sculptures in the the museum/gallery.

Some of the sculptures on display were full-size plaster versions that Thorvaldsen used as models for the final versions. (Marble is so unforgiving.) They were later carved in stone or cast in metal, sometimes by other artists after Thorvaldsen’s death, and installed elsewhere. That includes one that the Vatican commissioned, despite Thorvaldsen not being Catholic.

There are also a lot of final-version marble sculptures in the museum/gallery.

The museum’s collection also includes some antiquities, casts and paintings that Thorvaldsen had collected while studying art in Rome and over his live elsewhere.

The museum building is a rectangle with an open-air courtyard in the center. Thorvaldsen is buried in that courtyard.

When I visited the museum/gallery, the basement housed temporary exhibit of work by Jørgen Jaugen Sørensen, another Danish sculptor.

2 comments

Been there? Done that? Do tell.