The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Thorvaldsen’s Jason - Not the Jason of Antiquity

  • Chr. Gorm Tortzen, arkivet.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk, 2003
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Chr. Gorm Tortzen: ‘Thorvaldsen’s Jason – Not the Jason of Antiquity’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 2003, p. 19-25.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.

Summary Thorvaldsen’s Jason – Not the Jason of Antiquity

Thorvaldsen was not a man of letters and his inspiration did not come from books. A short survey of the Classical Greek authors writing on Jason (Apollodorus, Pindar, Apollonius Rhodius, Diodorus Siculus and Euripides) does not produce any Ancient example of a ‘Jason the Hero with the Golden Fleece’ comparable to that of Thorvaldsen. On the contrary, in literature Jason is always assisted by (or rather led by) Medea who is the real heroine in the legend of the theft of the Fleece.

There can be little doubt that Thorvaldsen was inspired by a series of drawings by A.J. Carstens (1797), but it is interesting to note that both artists are far from the ideas of literary correctness that some of their more academic colleagues favoured.

Last updated 11.05.2017