The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

The Classical Male Body - and Jason’s

  • Flemming Johansen,, 2003
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Flemming Johansen: ‘The Classical Male Body – and Jason’s’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 2003, p. 34-41.

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


The Classical Male Body – and Jason’s

By looking at representations of the classical Greek male body from Geometric to Hellenistic times, it becomes obvious that there is no question of a fixed concept. Great changes take place over time.

The classical male statues that Thorvaldsen could study primarily in the Vatican were from the classical, late classical and Hellenistic period, and there was a limited number of them. The influence is greatest from the so-called Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican. Thorvaldsen adopts the ideal heroic nudity, the very male and courageous characteristics. But in contrast to ancient Greek sculpture, Jason is mere decoration. He was not made as a statue for a tomb, a votive or an image of a god. He has no purpose; he was not commissioned. Ancient Greek statues had a purpose and were to stand in a specific place. Only with the Roman copies could statues be made only to adorn a garden or a thermal fountain.

Last updated 11.05.2017