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Bertel Thorvaldsen with the Goddess of Hope

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Thorvaldsen has chosen to portray himself in a work situation. We see him engaged on completing The Goddess of Hope, on which he is leaning. But just at this moment he is taking a rest and has lowered his tools. And then he has turned away from the statue. We cannot know what he is looking at, but we can of course make a guess. Perhaps he has had a momentary doubt as to how some detail should be carved. It may be that he is doing something as basic as studying the plaster model of the goddess in order to find the answer to some question or some doubt. It might also be that he is making a more general attempt in his mind’s eye to conjure up the idea of the Goddess of Hope. At all events, his expression is one of such concentration that he appears fraught, almost grim. But this is rather an expression of the serious way with which he himself regards his artistic activities and the serious way with which he hoped posterity would view his work and reputation.

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Thorvaldsen
Thorvaldsens Museum opened on 18 September 1848 and was the first public museum building in Denmark. The characteristic museum building was built to exhibit the extensive life’s work of the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and today still looks more or less as it did when it opened over 150 years ago. Thorvaldsens Museum also contains Thorvaldsen's drawings and sketches for sculptures and reliefs. In addition Thorvaldsen was a passionate collector, so the museum also exhibits his extensive collections of paintings from his own time and collections of artworks and objects from Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquity. The museum also shows changing exhibitions that go into greater depth with aspects of the permanent collections, including contemporary art.

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