Marble Relief Plaques After Thorvaldsen


A pair of late 19thC carved marble relief plaques after Thorvaldsen depicting Night and Day; after the originals by one of the greatest neo-classical sculptors Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), a Danish sculptor lived for 40 years in Italy and was greatly influenced by the ancient classical sculptures that he saw in Rome. Night and Day were produced in 1815 and 1816 and now hang opposite each other in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. As opposites they represent the two halves of a day, and together symbolize the wholeness of a day. Night personified floats passively over the sky with her neck bent. Her eyes are closed as are the eyes of the children in her embrace. Her hair is braided with poppies, with their sleep-inducing capacities, known since antiquity. The animal of the night – an owl – flies directly above.

Many copies of Thorvaldsen’s roundels were produced, both in marble such as this pair and in plaster, during his lifetime and subsequently. Thorvaldsen based his composition of Night on the writings of the Greek traveler and geographer, Pausanias (fl. AD143-176); whose Periegesis Hellados (Description of Greece) includes a description of the highly decorated cedarwood chest of Kypselos. One of the scenes depicted on the chest portrayed a woman with a sleeping white child on her right arm and a black child in her left arm; with the inscription that the figures represented Death (Thanatos) and Sleep (Hypnos) with Night, their nurse. Thorvaldsen also referred to a drawing he had made of the painter A.J. Carsten’s earlier treatment of the same subject in 1795 (Weimar).

The compositions are the most emblematic of Thorvaldsen’s relief sculptures and became an immediate success. The sculptor produced several versions for many famous people of his day such as Lord Lucan, Klemes von Metternich, François Gabriel de Bray and William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Dimensions: 33″ ( 84 cm ) Diameter

Ref. MR TV4655

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