August Riedel (Bayreuth 1799-Rome 1883), 'Portret van de beeldhouwer Thorwaldsen', aquarel, 17 x 13 cm, in lijst (26 x 21 cm). Gemonogrammeerd 'A.R.' en door Thorwaldsen zelf gesigneerd. Op de keerzijde geannoteerd in het Deens door de oorspronkelijke eigenaar. Prijs € 1400.-
An important watercolor, representing the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, signed by himself, with monogram A.R. , attributed to August Riedel (1799-1883), executed ca. 1833. Size: 6,75 x 5,25 inches. Thorwaldsen's signature below the watercolour is 9 cm (3,5 inches) long.
The watercolor shows Thorwaldsen* while busy working on the bust of the French painter Horace Vernet, whom he met in Rome and with whom he became close friends. The Thorvaldsens Museum of Copenhagen has in it's possession a large painting by Vernet with this representation, inventory numer B95: 'Portrait of Thorvaldsen modelling the bust of Horace Vernet', 99,8 x 75,2 cm. Oil on canvas, signed: 'Horace Vernet à Son Illustre ami Torwaldsen Rome 1833', but the watercolor shows varieties in colors and details and is executed mirror wise. The watercolor is framed behind glass in a profiled gilt frame, measuring 10,25 x 8,25 inches. The back of the frame is covered with cardboard and has a vintage typewritten text on it. The watercolor is monogrammed on the stool: 'A.R.'. This most likely refers to the German painter August Riedel (1799-1883)**.
Thorwaldsen's autograph: Below the watercolor Thorwaldsen's signature is placed. I have sent e-mails about this watercolor and pictures of it to the appropriate art historian (Dr. Margrethe Floryan), curator of the Thorvaldsen's Museum in Copenhagen and she replied:
"It is extremely difficult to judge upon a signature, not having seen it in the original version, but indeed it seems likely that the signature on the watercolour in your possession is Thorvaldsen's. You may also be right in supposing that August Riedel did the watercolor"
Provenance: Attached on the back of the picture is a Danish text. This typewritten text tells that the watercolor is made after a big ('stor') oil painting in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. The sculptor himself is said to have put his signature on it. The person having written this information (that is, one of two or both of the names written below: Waldemar Beer) then tells that he inherited the watercolor from his grandfather's brother F.J. Huss ca. 1911, and subsequently follows the story about who then owned the work. The name Beer also features on the back of the watercolor (which was examined out of the frame), combined with (probably) an inventory number: 'Beer 2155'.
*Bertel (Albert) Thorvaldsen (Thorwaldsen) lived from 1770 to 1844. He was born in Copenhagen (Denmark). While very young he learnt to assist his father; at the age of eleven he entered the Copenhagen school of art, and soon began to show his exceptional talents. In 1792 he won the highest prize, the travelling studentship, and in 1796 he traveled to Italy. In 1797 he arrived in Rome where Canova was at the height of his popularity. Thorwaldsen's first success was the model for a statue of Jason, which was highly praised by Canova, and he received the commission to execute it in marble from Thomas Hope, a wealthy English art-patron. From that time Thorwaldsen's success was assured, and he did not leave Italy for twenty-three years. In 1819 he returned to Denmark, where he was commissioned to make the colossal series of statues of Christ and the twelve apostles which are now in the Fruenkirche in Copenhagen. These were executed after his return to Rome, and were not completed till 1838, when Thorwaldsen again returned to Denmark. He died suddenly in the Copenhagen theatre on the 24th of March 1844 and bequeathed a great part of his fortune for the building and endowment of a museum in Copenhagen, and also left to fill it all his collection of works of art and the models for all his sculptures very large collection, exhibited to the greatest possible advantage. Thorwaldsen is buried in the courtyard of this museum (the famous Thorvaldsen Museum of Copenhagen), under a bed of roses, by his own special wish.
**August Riedel was born on December 25, 1799 in Bayreuth (Germany) and died on August 6 or 8, 1883 in Rome. Starting 1818 Riedel studied at the Munich Academy under the aegis of Robert von Langer. In 1828 he undertook his first journey to Italy. Owing to differences with the Director of the Academy, Peter von Cornelius, Riedel went to Dresden where he studied the old masters intensively. In 1832 he relocated permanently to Rome. Riedel, who is also known for his psychologically sensitive portraits, is primarily appreciated for his Italian genre scenes, which, early on, displayed a characteristically heightened and luminous coloration. In 1828 Riedel received a scholarship for Italy. He went so quickly to the much desired country, that he finished the journey in eleven days, without once changing clothes. Immediately he visited Thorwaldsen, with whom he became close friends. (source: Who is who in Bayreuth http://www.barnick.de/bt/wer/index.htm ) It is very likely that he painted this watercolor in Rome around 1833, the same period that Vernet painted the large oil painting. Thorvaldsen's Museum owns two works by August Riedel originating from Thorvaldsen's own paintings collection. One (inv.no.B150) shows a Neapolitan fisherman and his family (1833), the second one (inv.no. B151) represents a girl bathing (1837).