This beautiful Jason with the Golden Fleece, male hero from the Greek mythology, was sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor mentioned before in this blog for his Ganymède and his Achille
This sculpture is considered by many as the masterpiece of Thorvaldsen’s work. It
was initially done in clay, life size, in 1802, to show his sculpting ability to the Copenhagen Academy. The nude aspect of
the sculpture may have been inspired by the Apollo Belvedere, sculpture
that we mentioned previously in this blog as part of the male art in the Vatican
Bertel Thorvaldsen, from Denmark, is born in 1770, and died in 1844. He spent a major part of his life in Italy (Rome), and would be in the line of the best neoclassicists sculptors, like the Italian Antonio Canova. Canova who apparently was impressed by the Jason sculpture (see 19th century art website in the sources).
|Painting of Bertel Thorvaldsen by Rudolf Suhrlandt - 1810 - detail|
|Drawing of Thorvalden 'Jason' sculpture, by Ferdinando Mori - 1809|
Thorvaldsen received a commission from Thomas Hope, a British art lover, to sculpt his Jason in marble, larger than the clay model, and this sculpture of 242 cm (95 inches) will take 25 years to be achieved. The long and exciting story of it can be read in detail here
. The marble sculpture was purchased by the Thorvaldsen Museum in 1917, at an auction following Hope's death.
|The only known sketch of Jason done by Thorvaldsen - c.1800-1802|
Below is a lithograph, dated 1872, made by Thorvald Jensen, showing Thomas Hope arriving in Thorvaldsen' studio to buy Jason with the Golden Fleece.
For those interested in the Greek mythology of Jason's legend: ''Jason was a Greek mythological prince
whose wicked uncle Pelias had unjustly taken power from Jason’s father,
King Aison. To win back the throne, Jason needed to obtain the Golden
Fleece, which was guarded by a dangerous dragon in a far-off land. Jason
sailed off with his men to find it, and after surviving numerous
dangers and challenges, the brave young man and his comrades finally
found the Fleece; this sculpture depicts the proud Jason at the moment
where, with the Fleece draped over his arm, he is going down to the ship
that will return him to his fatherland.
The Fleece was magical, and
guaranteed fertility and wealth to the land that possessed it – so by
obtaining it, Jason established that he was not only a prince in name,
but indeed, equipped to rule his land in the best possible way. The
notion that a person’s station in society is not determined by inherited
privileges, but by his or her human abilities, is a fundamental
democratic principle. As is well known, classical Greece was the cradle
of democracy, and Thorvaldsen’s Jason made its appearance on the
artistic scene at precisely the moment when pro-democracy sentiment was
making a powerful impact in Europe."
The Copenhagen Thorvaldsen Museum :
|As published in the Anderson guide in 1887|
The Danish Post Office decided to create the first Danish Art Stamp
with his name, to celebrate his return to Denmark, and his nomination as
Citizen of Honour in Copenhagen.
Denmark 1938. The Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen,
after a painting by C.W. Eckersberg.
Denmark 1938. Sculpture by Bertel Thorvaldsen,
"Jason with the Golden Fleece".
The Thorvaldsen Museum
The Hope Commission story
19th century art website