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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense


Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768–1844) with the Bust of Horace Vernet

Horace Vernet (French, Paris 1789–1863 Paris)

Oil on canvas
38 x 29 1/2 in. (96.5 x 74.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. Rudolf J. Heinemann, 1962
Accession Number:
  • Provenance

    [Guy Stein, Paris, before 1940?]; [Rudolf J. Heinemann, New York, 1942–62; on consignment to Arnold Seligman, Rey & Co. in 1942]

  • Exhibition History

    Hartford. 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).

    "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. "The Age of Neo-Classicism," September 9–November 19, 1972, no. 259 (as "Portrait of Thorvaldsen").

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

  • References

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, 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.

    Jean Lacambre in The 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).

    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.

    Georges Brunel in Horace 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.

  • Notes

    Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Danish sculptor who spent most of his working life in Rome. He became friends with Vernet during the latter's tenure in Rome as Director of the French Academy from 1829–35. The marble bust represented here was given by Vernet in 1835 to the Musée Calvet, Avignon and the original plaster mold is in the Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen. This picture is a replica of the portrait in the Thorvaldens Museum, signed and dated on the stand at the right, "Horace Vernet à son Illustre ami Torwaldsen/Rome 1833." A replica close to ours was owned by J. Leger and Son, London in 1955 [see "Notable Works of Art Now on the Market: Supplement," "Burlington Magazine" 97 (July 1955)]. Another replica, attributed to Vernet, was owned by the Wildenstein Gallery, New York in 1982 [see Ref. Bernier 1982]. Brunel [Ref. 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, and an engraving after the Copenhagen version is reproduced in "Gazette des beaux-arts" 24 (1868), p. 553. A sketch in a private collection depicting Thorvaldsen leaning on the model for his sculpture "Le Monument du Lion" reveals Vernet's original conception for this portrait [see Ref. Lacambre 1972].

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History