Explanation

  • Interest in Thorvaldsen grew among members of the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen and its leading figure, Prince Christian (VIII) Frederik (1786-1848) when they were presented with Thorvaldsen’s frieze Alexander the Great’s Triumphal Entry into Babylon (inv. no. A503). This frieze was made in 1812 for the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome. And from Rome, the Copenhagen City Architect Peder Malling (1781-1865) had brought with him copper print engravings reproducing the 34.46 metre frieze. He laid them before the Academy Assembly. When, in a letter dated 20.11.1815, Malling told Thorvaldsen of the Assembly’s interest, he referred to the frieze as “your triumph on Monte Cavello”. And the upshot was that Copenhagen expressed the wish to have a marble version of the frieze to be erected in Christiansborg Palace. However, one challenge was that the hall in Christianborg Palace contained more metres of wall than the relevant hall in the Palazzo del Quirinale. The solution arrived at was that Thorvaldsen should add some single figures in order to lengthen the frieze. Of the five musicians reproduced in Samuel Amsler’s print, the three foremost are only to be found in the frieze in Christiansborg Palace. At all events, according to Thorvaldsen’s source – the work on Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) written by the historian Quintus Curtius in the first century BC – there were musicians among the citizens of Babylon who came to greet the victorious Alexander.

Dimension

  • Width (plate size?) 350 mm
  • Height (plate size?) 226 mm
  • Tab. X.