About this artwork

Polio left Scott permanently lame in the right leg at the age of eighteen months. His parents sent him to recover at his grandfather's farm near Kelso in the Borders. Here he came to know and love the ballads which later inspired his literary career . Scott's novels were read and admired throughout Europe. Those which have Scottish themes, like Old Mortality and Heart of Midlothian, have had a major impact on how Scots view their own past. After retiring in 1830, his health ruined through overwork, Scott travelled to Italy. Here he met the Danish neo-classical sculptor, Thorvaldsen. The bust which resulted from their meeting presents the writer as a noble genius rather than as an exhausted old man..

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Thorvaldsen, the son of a wood carver, showed an early talent for drawing and was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, aged eleven. In 1796 he set off for Rome where he was to remain until 1838. He was praised by the great Italian neoclassical sculptor Canova and excelled at producing marble figures from classical mythology. He also sculpted portrait busts and panels in low relief. Thorvaldsen left his collections - comprising the plaster models for his sculptures, and paintings, drawings and antiquities - to the Danish people. Thorvaldsens Museum, built to display these collections, opened in 1848 as the first public museum in Denmark.