Bertel Thorvaldsen


Danish Neoclassical  Sculptor

Artistically and Stylistically Influenced by the Following Artists - Michelangelo and Leonardo DeVinci, Greek and Roman Art

Education - Royal Danish Academy of Art

Cause of Death - fever

Description and Origins of the Neoclassic Art Movement

The heart of Neo-Classical movement was centered in Rome, where expatriate artists congregated around the flamboyant German classical archaeologist and art critic Johann Joachim Wincklemann.  The Greco-Roman intermingling of realistically observed detail and ideally conceived form has greatly influenced the sculptural styles in the Western art. The period is called neoclassical because its artists looked back to the art and culture of classical Greece and Rome.  

Wincklemann wrote about roman archeological excavations and touted the homoeroticism of Greco-Roman art, writing explicit descriptions  erotic male sculptures from Classical Antiquity thereby encouraging an interest in Greek antiquities. According to Winckelmanns biographer, Walter Pater, "his affinity with Hellenism was not merely intellectual, that the subtler threads of temperament were inwoven in it, is proved by his romantic, fervent friendships with young men. He has known, he says, many young men more beautiful than Guido’s archangel. These friendships, bringing him into contact with the pride of human form, and staining the thoughts with its bloom, perfected his reconciliation to the spirit of Greek sculpture. "

More than just a classical revival, Neo-Classicism was connected to contemporary political events. Neo-Classical artists at first wanted to supplant the eroticism and frivolity of the Rococo style with a style that was orderly and serious in character.  French Neoclassism painters emphasis's patriotism, as well as a sense of civility and honorableness. The movement was particularly connected with the beliefs of the French Revolution and was seen as anti-aristocratic. The fantasy-based aristocratic art of the Rococo seemed an insult upon the rights of men and was vilified by critics and the general public.  In an age of sweeping revolution and transformation Neoclassicism became the art of change.

Prominent Artists of the Neoclassical Period

James Barry Irish, 1741-1806
Antonio Canova Italian, 1757-1822
Jacques-Louis David French, 1748-1825
Jules Elie Delaunay French, 1828-1891
Francois Gerard French, 1770-1837
Antoine-Jean Gros  French, 1771-1835
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres French, 1780-1867
Angelica Kauffmann Swiss, 1741-1807
Rembrandt Peale American, 1778-1860
Bertel Thorvaldsen Danish, 1770-1844
John Trumbull American, 1756-1843
Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun   French, 1755-1842
Benjamin  West American, 1738-1820

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References -  Richard Muther, The History of Modern Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896