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Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Danish sculptor born to humble origins in Copenhagen in 1770. He became considered as one of the greatest sculptors in Europe and a successor of the famous sculptor Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757-1822).
The son of a wood carver, Thorvaldsen was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Art at age 11, and was awarded funding to continue his education in Rome. Thorvaldsen was celebrated for his ability to incorporate the styles of ancient Rome and Greece into his own work, and became one of the protagonists of Neoclassical sculpture.
Thorvaldsen took inspiration for works from Greek mythology, as well as classical art and literature. Among his most important commissions was a portrait statue of Pope Pius VII, which is held in the Vatican, a statue of Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany and the Lion Monument of 1819 in Lucerne, Switzerland, which commemorates the death of over 600 Swiss Guards in the French Revolution.