A LIFE AT WORK
is probably no history,only biography”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)
Balthasar Dalhoff (JBD) lived from 11. november 1800
to 2. march 1890; and was my great-grandfather.
At a celebration in 1900 of JBD’s centenary by the Industrial
Association, his son Nicolai
Christian Dalhoff (1843-1927) consented to write a book
about his father. This promise was fulfilled 15 years later, as
shown on the opposite page.
From early childhood my father, Ludvig Georg Dalhoff (1882-1942),
always kept close to his beloved grandfather in the workshop, and
JBD influenced him greatly. The JBD-book was a must for his children;
with it’s greatest inspiration in the life of my eldest brother,
Jørgen Nicolai Dalhoff (1911-95); the book was still at his
bedside table when he died in New Zealand.
We are a close family; but spread on four continents.
Thus, while enjoying their sun and sea in Australia, my relatives
there convinced me that I should make some extracts in English,
”for the younger generations”.
However, getting into the depth of the book, with it’s intimacy
of daily life and hardships, joys and sorrows, made me change my
outline. I wanted to make a proper book. This meant much more work,
- but very fortunately my second niece Tove Skaarup (neé
Dalhoff) readily agreed to assist with translations.
The present book is thus the result of a happy teamwork between
a great-grandson and a great-great-granddaughter of JBD !
The book follows the outline of the original, but the many comments
and anecdotes about other issues and personalities of the time have
been left out. Apart from the initial introduction of the family
background, the book is now almost entirely based on JBD’s
own letters and notes. This strict adherence to the sources –
his son, NCD, complained about his father’s lack of style
– may at some places hamper the book’s easy read a bit;
but what is lost here, is gained in authenticity.
With a few additions, the illustrations in the text are those of
the original. The basis for these, as well as many other JBD scetches
and designs, were donated to Kunstindustrimuseet (The Museum of
Applied Art) in Copenhagen some fifty years ago.
The Supplementary Notes to this book are short; just enough for
a reader unfamiliar with it’s key persons. The Notes end with
a ”Historic Background” that might in fact be quite
useful before starting to read the book.
Much effort has been put into finding and preparing the Supplementary
Illustrations that complete this book. They are not in chronological
or any other order; but a valued addition. For three of them, thank
you to Marianne in Melbourne, Bo in Paris, and Mette in Copenhagen!
And last, certainly not least, many thanks to Tove and to Jorge.
Without you two, this book couldn’t have come out now.
ARKIVET, THORVALDSENS MUSEUM: