The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

Canonical measurements. Thorvaldsen’s Statue Jason with the Golden Fleece


Canonical measurements. Thorvaldsen’s Statue Jason with the Golden Fleece

The measurements presented and analyzed in this essay show that the Roman palm is not just a conceptual dimension that we find in the contract from March 1803 concerning Thorvaldsen’s Jason with the Golden Fleece and in a couple of Thorvaldsen’s drawings, as well as appearing frequently in his correspondence. Our study testifies to Thorvaldsen having made practical use of this unit of measurement in his work with the sculpture Jason with the Golden Fleece. Furthermore, the results thus obtained have enabled us to make use of arithmetic-geometric data to further support the commonplace viewpoint that the sculpture is closely related to the ancient Apollo Belvedere, just as deviations from this can be documented. Measurements of Doryphoros (The Spear-Carrier) by Polykleitos have, moreover, confirmed the presence of a different system of proportions in this statue to those of either Jason or Apollo Belvedere. However, with regard to the facial profiles and their proportions in the three statues, there is clearly a fundamental, shared denominator. The measurements displayed here, furthermore, provide the first data enabling an analysis of the relationship between Thorvaldsen’s plaster model of Jason and his final version in marble. It seems that Thorvaldsen never made use of actual measurements of living people in his work. He located his essential principles and tools in the field of measurement within antique sculpture. Current analysis highlights a new approach and has produced new data. Hopefully, these will contribute to our overall understanding of Jason as well as, more generally, Thorvaldsen’s methodology.

Works referred to

A52 A822 C348r N47

Last updated 09.09.2021