Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 02 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Thorvaldsen’s “Christus” was once considered “the most perfect statue of Christ in the world”


Andrzej Otrębski | CC BY-SA 4.0

Daniel Esparza - published on 10/07/19

The work of the Danish master sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, this statue is one of the peaks of neoclassical art.

Bertel Thorvaldsen might not be too well known outside of Europe. Even more, he might not even be one of the most famous European sculptors. But in his day and age, this Copenhagen-born humble son of a wood carver made a name for himself as one of the 19th-century’s greatest sculptors on the continent, with patrons from all over Europe commissioning works from him.

Having lived for most of his life in Italy (Thorvaldsen was born in 1770 and moved to Rome in 1797, only to return to Copenhagen in 1838), he was considered as the successor of the Italian neoclassical master sculptor Antonio Canova, famously known for his statue of Eros and Psyche, often regarded as the greatest of all the artists of this period. Some of Canova’s sober beauty and warm naturalness can in fact be seen in Thorvaldsen’s Christus Consolator, often referred to simply as Christus.

The Christus, made in Carrara marble, is three and a half meters high (around 11 feet), and represents the Risen Christ with the inscription “Kommer til mig,” that is, “Come to me,” in Danish. According to Fanny Coe’s The World and Its People (a travel book published in 1896), this statue was then considered more than exceptional. Coe’s text reads as follows:

Christ is represented with open arms, saying to the world ‘come to me and I will give you rest.’ It is considered the most perfect statue of Christ in the world. Thorwaldsen (sic) did the whole work himself, not entrusting any portion of it to his pupils, as was his custom. When it was finished, he was seized with despondency. “My genius is decaying,” he said to his friends, “my statue of Christ is the first of my works that I have ever felt satisfied with. Till now my idea has always been far beyond what I could execute; but it is so no longer. I shall never have a great idea again.”

The moment Thorvaldsen finished the sculpture it was moved to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, where it can still be seen today.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.