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The Triumphal Entry of Alexander into Babylon

By Thorwaldsen (Original in Thorwaldsen Museum, Copenhagen)
Twenty-two slabs, 24 inches by 958 inches

Descriptions and prices for these pieces are listed at the bottom of this page

A B

CD

EF

GH

IJ

KL

MN

OP

QR

ST

UV

Taken from the plaster casts of the model in the Thorvaldsen Museum Copenhagen by permission of the Danish government.

In the center of the frieze, Alexander in a triumphal chariot stands erect, his head raised, his scepter in his right hand and his left hand on his hip. Victory, holding with one hand the front of the chariot, supports herself by her wings and guides the horses.

Behind Alexander march two equerries and one man leading Bucephalus. Then Haphaestion on horseback, followed by Parmenio and Amyntas at the head of the Macedonian cavalry; after whom come the foot-soldiers Then an aged warrior leading an elephant loaded with booty, and next a Persian general, with head bowed down, under the guard of a young soldier. Next a horseman spurring his steed to regain his place in the ranks. At the right extremity of the bas-relief a warrior points out the procession to a man in antique drapery, who is Napoleon himself.

On the left, in the other half of the composition, the vanquished advance to meet Alexander. At their head the Goddess of Peace, bearing the horn of plenty, offers an olive branch to the conqueror. Behind her, in a suppliant attitude, appears the Persian general Mazaeus, accompanied by his five sons and two warriors. Then come women scattering flowers in the way; men are seen erecting an altar for burning perfumes in accordance with the orders of Bagophanes; then two heralds blowing trumpets. Next come presents from the Macedonian king, horses and a lion and a tiger, chained. Chaldean astrologers issue from the city gate where are posted two Persian sentinels. Near the gate are a herdsman and his family, and a young shepherd driving home his flock. Vases of perfumes are placed along the top of the city walls, above which are seen the tree tops of the hanging gardens. The god of the river Tigris, leaning upon an urn and holding a rudder and stalks of wheat, reclines beside the walls of Babylon. Two merchants take to flight in a boat; and farther on, in the shade of the palm trees that grow beside the river, a young man is tranquilly fishing, while on the left are several figures: a young man and a women watching the procession and a child climbing upon a camel held by a camel driver.

In late 1811, the French Academy in Rome received an order to ornament the Quirinal Palace in anticipation of a visit by French Emperor Napoleon. The architect Stern proposed to Bertel Thorvaldsen that he should compose the bas-reliefs that were to form a frieze for one of the most spacious halls, and left him the choice of subjects.

Perhaps in deference to Napoleon's belief that he was "the new Alexander," the sculptor decided to represent the "Entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon." This was to be one of the largest and most important of his works. Thorvaldsen had to work fast--the model for the enormous piece had to be finished in the span of three months.

Desiring to give the composition breadth of style, he was forced to sacrifice the details to the general effect. The frieze was intended for so high a position that finish of execution was of secondary importance. As soon as he finished a piece, he took from the clay a mold from which only one copy could be cast. Those who saw the result from close-by did not like it.

Though Thorvaldsen worked diligently, the frieze wasn't finished until June, 1812. When it was completed and in position, it surpassed even the expectations of his friends. Imperfections disappeared and only the harmony of the composition was seen, recalling the friezes of antiquity.

Napoleon--defeated by Alexander of Russia--never saw the frieze, when the reverse of fortune sent him to the island of Elba instead of Rome. He paid only half of the cost of 320,000 francs. The Bourbon government was not eager to help with the completion of a work honoring the would-be conqueror, and Thorvaldsen, after offering it unsuccessfully to several European sovereigns for the amount necessary to finish it, finally disposed of it to a private individual, the Count of Sommariva, for 100,000 francs. It was placed in that gentleman's villa on the shore of Lake Como.

The castings are produced in calcium silica aluminate, an all weather casting stone that is suitable for any exterior environment. The patina on each piece is hand finished and will show the subtle variation in color and texture that is typical of aged marble. Although restraining eyelets are cast into the tops of each piece, it is recommended that they be used to retain the castings from forward movement only. It is best to mount these casts on a ledge, in a niche, or with iron cramps, etc. Please contact us for more installation options for your particular situation. Contact Robert Boucher at: 520 366 5769.

Allow 4 - 6 weeks delivery. Approximate weight of castings: 40 pounds per lineal foot. Will ship internationally. Insured. FOB Tucson, Arizona. Payment in full is required within 7 days from the date the auction ends.

Payment
I accept the following forms of payment: PayPal, Money Order, Personal Check.

PRICES:

A. A young man and a woman watching the procession and a child climbing upon a camel held by a camel driver.
24" x 41 1/2"; $1755
B. Two merchants take to flight in a boat; and farther on, in the shade of the palm trees that grow beside the river, a young man is tranquilly fishing.
24" x 51"; $2340
C. The god of the river Tigris, leaning upon an urn and holding a rudder and stalks of wheat, reclines beside the walls of Babylon.
24" x 27"; $1320
D. Near the gate are a herdsman and his family, and a young shepherd driving home his flock. Vases of perfumes are placed along the top of the city walls, above which are seen the tree tops of the hanging gardens.
24" x 51"; $2340
E. Chaldean astrologers issue from the city gate where are posted two Persian sentinels.
24" x 48 1/2"; $2340
F. Next come presents from the Macedonian king, horses and a lion and a tiger, chained.
24" x 50 1/2"; $2340
G. Presents from the Macedonian king, horses.
24" x 46"; $2340
H. Presents from the Macedonian king, horses.
24" x 39"; $1755
I. Two heralds blowing trumpets.
24" x 39"; $1755
J. Men are seen erecting an altar for burning perfumes in accordance with the orders of Bagophanes.
24" x 33 1/2"; $1755
K. Women are scattering flowers in the way.
24" x 36 1/2"; $1755
L. Warriors of the Persian general Mazaeus.
24" x 27 1/2"; $1315
M. The Goddess of Peace bearing the horn of plenty, offers an olive branch to the conqueror.
24" x 56 1/2"; $2925
N. Alexander in a triumphal chariot stands erect, his head raised, his scepter in his right hand and his left hand on his hip. Victory, holding with one hand the front of the chariot, supports herself by her wings and guides the horses.
24" x 38 1/2"; $1755
O. Behind Alexander march two equerries and one man leading Bucephalus.
24" x 45 1/2"; $2340
P. Haphaestion on horseback, followed by Parmenio and Amyntas at the head of the Macedonian cavalry.
24" x 55 1/2"; $2925
Q. Macedonian soldier on horseback.
24" x 27"; $1315
R. Macedonian soldiers on horseback.
24" x 63"; $3080
S. Macedonian soldiers on horseback.
24" x 63 1/2"; $3080
T. Macedonian foot soldiers.
24" x 35 1/2"; $1755
U. An aged warrior leading an elephant loaded with booty, and a Persian general, with his head bowed down, under the guard of a young soldier.
24" x 38 1/2"; $1755
V. A horseman spurring his steed to regain his place in the ranks. At the right extremity of the bas-relief a warrior points out the procession to a man in antique drapery, who is Napoleon himself.
24" x 44 1/2"; $2340

 
 Also see the Cantoria