Ernst Meyer – “Monk reading with a boy”

This was a rather exciting find! It appears that the Colonel commissioned 3 x paintings from Danish artist Ernst Meyer through the icelandic sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen. Just when I think I’ve exhausted all the research avenues the Internet can offer, a little gem sparkles at me. The Colonel mentions copies of two paintings and a new original of a monk instructing a youth. Clearly, this letter is about making sure he gets value for money, and checking on progress! I’m not sure what he means when he refers to the statuary? Was Thorvaldsen on commision too? And does Mr Heley, refer to George Healy, or someone else? Also, the Torlonia family invested in Roman statues and ancient art, and are now famed for their collection.

A monk reading with a boy

I found the painting referred to online, and it sold at auction in 2019.

Here is the letter:

Sender: Herman Thorn

Sender’s Location: Baden Baden

Recipient: Bertel Thorvaldsen

Baden Baden: 20 Augt 1834

My dear Sir

From the specimen of the talent of Mr. Meyer at your gallery of paintings, and the favourable opinion you kindly expressed of him, I was induced to give him an order for three paintings vizl. 2. Copies, or similar, and as valuable as the two you have of his work, one, he had commenced of less size, I think a monk instructing a youth – They were to be submitted to you early in September for your approval, when Messr Torlonia & Co will pay five hundred Dollars for them according to my engagement, but not unless you deem them in all respects equal to yours in value – The Statuary Mr Heley has in hand for me I trust in (is?) progressing, and I am sure that it will merrit my approbation when finished. I beg you will pardon the liberty I have taken, and be assured of my sincere respect and esteem

I have the honor to be Most faithfully Your obedient Humble Servt.
Herman Thorn


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