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Ganymede with Jupiter's Eagle, 1817
Marble. 93,3 x 118,3 cm
Inventory number: A44
In Greek mythology the boy Ganymede was carried up into the sky, to the home of the gods on Olympus to be the gods’ taster. According to legend it was Zeus, in the shape of an eagle, who took the beautiful boy from Phrygia in the north-western part of Asia Minor (Turkey). The effect of Thorvaldsen’s sculpture is created mostly by the contrast between the smooth skin of the boy and his trusting nature, which is juxtaposed by the detailed rendering of the eagle’s feathers, its harsh look and its sharp beak. Ganymede was to take the place of Hebe as the taster of the gods, because she spilled the drink – the nectar – that made the gods immortal. Thorvaldsen modelled the group sculpture in 1817 and it exists in several marble copies.