1770-1844. The sculptor spent most of his active life in Rome, where he lived from 1797 to 1838. In the intervening years, however, he had contact with Copenhagen, where he was appointed Professor (1805) and later Director (1833-44) at the Academy of Fine Arts. In Rome, Thorvaldsen studied Classical sculpture, which was his most important source of inspiration.
He experienced his artistic breakthrough with Jason (1802-03, Thorvaldsens Museum), which made him internationally known as the greatest sculptor of neo-classicism alongside Antonio Canova.
The great demand for Thorvaldsen's works resulted in time in his having a well-run studio workshop with a large number of pupils and assistants. In addition to a large number of busts and statues of famous European personalities, Thorvaldsen executed a number of large monumental tasks, for instance the Alexander Frieze in Rome (1812, Quirinale Palace).
He was given a hero's welcome when he returned to Denmark in 1838. He left his collection of works by himself and others to the city of Copenhagen, which had a museum (Thorvaldsens Museum, 1839-48) built to house it.
Vibeke Skov, Gyldendal Leksikon