Bertel Thorvaldsen with the Goddess of Hope
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.