I must confess here that I am not a great art expert. I can appreciate it and I enjoy visiting art museums occasionally. But I consider my general knowledge in art rather limited and I admit that I knew very little about Bertel Thorvaldsen before visiting Denmark for the first time.
During my visits to Copenhagen, I learned that Thorvaldsen had been a prominent Danish sculptor. His works can be admired all over the world, and in some places in Copenhagen (at the Vor Frue Kirke among others for his statues of Christ and the Apostles). But I still hesitated a long time before going to visit the Thorvaldsens Museum. An entire museum dedicated to the career of a sculptor I knew little of? The idea did not please me that much, even though my Danish friend claimed that it was one of her favourite museums in Copenhagen.
It finally took me five trips to Copenhagen before visiting the Thorvaldsens Museum. And finally, I regretted not having been there earlier.
First, the works of Thorvaldsen are truly impressive and beautiful. As a neoclassical artist, the sculptor resided much of his life in Rome and was inspired by Greek mythology to create his works. He has also sculpted portraits of important personalities, such as Pope Pius VII, whose sculpture is today on the Pope’s tomb at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (Thorvaldsen is the only non-Catholic sculptor that have a work at the basilica).
Beyond the sculptures, the museum itself is also interesting to visit. Built in 1837, the museum offers the chance to see reproductions in marble and in bronze (as well as the original molds) of the most famous works of Thorvaldsen. The sculptures are grouped by theme, in small rooms as in large, and beautifully highlighted by the lighting or the surrounding decoration.
Upstairs, there are also personal collections of Thorvaldsen (works of art, Roman pottery, coins, archaeological artifacts, etc.). It is also interesting to see the works in which Thorvaldsen was represented (and there are a few, as the latter was perceived as a hero in Denmark).
Thorvaldsen is buried in the inner courtyard of the museum under a bed of roses. A very humble tomb when you compare it with the magnificent works that surround it!
The museum is located in the center of Copenhagen, next to Christianborg Palace. The visit is free on Wednesdays. All the more reason to add this museum to your list of places to visit if you go to Copenhagen!