Jason with the Golden Fleece, 1803
Marble. 242 cm
Inventory number: A822
Works, relating to this work: Thorvaldsen, Jason with the Golden Fleece, formerly in the Thorvaldsen Museum, now in the City Hall of Copenhagen. Executed by Brynjulf Larsen Bergslien under the supervision of H.W. BissenEnlarge photo
This sculpture is Thorvaldsen’s breakthrough work, begun in Rome in 1802, finished in plaster and ordered in marble by the rich, English patron of the arts, Thomas Hope, in 1803. Jason is a prince from Classical Mythology. In order to become king he has to get a golden ram fleece, guarded by a dangerous dragon in a far away grove. The sculpture depicts him proud in the moment where he has managed to get the fleece and now returns home to his kingdom. Thorvaldsen’s contemporaries recognised that with this sculpture new life had successfully been given to Antiquity and thus the belief in the free man had been re-established. As such Thorvaldsen’s Jason marks the threshold to the 1800s, when western representative democracies saw the light of day. Hope’s marble version of Jason was purchased by Thorvaldsens Museum at an auction in England in 1917.