Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768–1844) with the Bust of Horace Vernet
Horace Vernet (French, Paris 1789–1863 Paris)
1833 or later
Oil on canvas
38 x 29 1/2 in. (96.5 x 74.9 cm)
Gift of Dr. Rudolf J. Heinemann, 1962
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 801
The internationally celebrated Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen spent most of his working life in Rome. He befriended Vernet during the latter's tenure as Director of the French Academy in Rome, between 1829 and 1835. The marble bust represented here was given by Vernet in 1835 to the Musée Calvet, Avignon; the original plaster mold is in the Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen. The present work is a replica of the prime version in the Thorvaldsens Museum, in which the stand at the right is signed and dated 1833.
[Guy Stein, Paris, before 1940?]; [Rudolf J. Heinemann, New York, 1942–62; on consignment to Arnold Seligman, Rey & Co. in 1942]
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "'In Memoriam': An Exhibition of Paintings Under $1,000," February 24–March 22, 1942, no. 60 (as "Thorwaldsen [sic], the Danish Sculptor," for $950).
New York. American Federation of the Arts. "Romantic Art, 1750–1900," October 1965–October 1966, no. 23.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portrait of the Artist," January 18–March 7, 1972, no. 19.
London. Royal Academy of Arts and Victoria and Albert Museum. "The Age of Neo-classicism," September 9–November 19, 1972, no. 259 (as "Portrait of Thorvaldsen) [shown at Royal Academy].
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, p. 18, ill., as "Portrait of Bertel Thorvaldsen with the Bust of Vernet"; call it a replica of the original portrait (Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen); note that the plaster model for the bust of Vernet is also in the Thorvaldsen Museum and that the marble sculpture (1832) is in the Musée Calvet, Avignon.
John Walsh Jr. Portrait of the Artist. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1972, p. 14, no. 19, dates it 1835 or later; calls the double portrait of a painter and a sculptor unusual.
Jean Lacambre inThe Age of Neo-Classicism. Exh. cat., Royal Academy. London, 1972, p. 164, no. 259, mentions Vernet's original conception for this portrait, known from a sketch in a private collection, depicting Thorvaldsen leaning on the model for his sculpture "Le Monument du Lion" (1819).
Georges Brunel inHorace Vernet (1789–1863). Exh. cat., Accademia di Francia a Roma. Rome, 1980, p. 89, under no. 64, calls it an autograph replica of the Copenhagen picture and mentions two copies, one in Rome and one in Marina di Carrara.
Neil MacGregor. "Paris: Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts." Burlington Magazine 122 (October 1980), p. 710, fig. 58.
Georges Bernier. Consulat-Empire-Restauration: Art in Early XIX Century France. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1982, p. 124.
Bjarne Jørneas in Kasper Monrad. The Golden Age of Danish Painting. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 56 n. 19.
Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Danish sculptor who spent most of his working life in Rome. He befriended Vernet during the latter's tenure in Rome as Director of the French Academy, between 1829 and 1835. The marble bust represented here was given by Vernet in 1835 to the Musée Calvet, Avignon; the original plaster mold is in the Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen. The present work is a replica of the prime version in the Thorvaldens Museum, which is signed, dated, and inscribed on the stand, at the right, "Horace Vernet à son Illustre ami Torwaldsen / Rome 1833" (Horace Vernet to his Illustrious friend Torwaldsen [sic] / Rome 1833).
Another replica, which is close to the Metropolitan's version, was with J. Leger and Son, London in 1955 (see "Notable Works of Art Now on the Market: Supplement," "Burlington Magazine" 97 [July 1955]). Yet another replica, attributed to Vernet, was with Wildenstein, New York in 1982 (see Bernier 1982). Brunel (1980) also mentions copies in Rome and Marina di Carrara. A copy by the Danish artist C. W. Schenström is in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow and an anonymous copy was included in the sale held at Aeldre Kunst Antikviteter, Copenhagen, on September 10–12, 1997 (no. 121). A miniature based on the composition is in the Royal Collection Trust, London.
An engraving after the Copenhagen version was published in "Gazette des beaux-arts" 24 (1868), p. 553. A sketch in a private collection, which depicts Thorvaldsen leaning on the model for his sculpture "Le Monument du Lion," reveals Vernet's original conception for this portrait (see Lacambre 1972 under References).