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Thorvaldsens Museum opened in central Copenhagen in 1848. The great Danish sculptor had arranged to donate his own works of art and his collections to the city, provided that the museum be built for the purpose; it would become his tomb. The Museum was decorated with a colourful frieze depicting the triumphant arrival of Thorvaldsen and his magnificent works of art in Copenhagen from the artist’s studio in Rome. The dramatic frieze, designed by the Danish artist Jørgen Sonne, made a big splash at the time, and has captivated visitors ever since. In this learned and lively study of the Museum and its frieze, John Henderson shows how the frieze takes inspiration from classical models, including the Parthenon and Roman monuments, in delivering the finest neoclassical art, and its cosmopolitan European culture, to the attention of a newly modernized public.
This beautifully illustrated book breaks new ground in Danish History of Art, bringing an important and unique Danish work of art to an international audience with the blessing of the Museum.
John Henderson is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of King's College.
"Denne dramatiske frise og ikke mindst muligheden for at se noget politisk i den, er Hendersons ærinde, ligesom han sætter hele projektet i en europæisk kontekst. Også denne bog, der er rigt illustreret, er ganske glimrende."
Fire ud af seks stjerner
- Ole Nørlyng, Berlingske Tidende.
"In fact, the book, at just 120 pages. would make an excellent introductory text for undergraduate students of either ancient or modern sculpture; the accounts of Thorvaldsen's sculptures in the course of their appearence in the frieze, in Chapter Two, make a good introduction to the sculptor's work, and Chapters One and Three include useful accounts of a number of important ancient sculptures that relate in some way to the imagery of the frieze. More importantly, the book presents a rich and nuanced example of reception study, a critical method that has gained ground rapidly in Classics in recent years ... Henderson's study of the Copenhagen frieze thus takes its place as one of the most thoughtful and detailed reception studies yet to appear in art history ..."
- Elizabeth Prettejohn, Art History Vol. 29, Nov 2006.
"H.'s [John Henderson's] approach is, as ever, a playful one. ... Essentially this book allows us to visit the museum and walk around the frieze with H. as a companion, constantly pointing things out, sharing juicy titbits and making bad jokes. This proves to be enormous fun. More importantly, what we learn goes beyond this one artwork and we take away new insights into museums, triumphal parades and the way the modern world has used antiquity in the construction of national identity."
- Katharine Edgar, Journal of Hellenic Studies 128, 2008.
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