(b. 1768/70, København, d. 1844, København)
Jason with the Golden Fleece1803-28
Marble, height 242 cm
Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen
This figure is considered Thorvaldsen's breakthrough piece. In October 1800 he had made a first version at life size, which was lost because he had no money to make a plaster cast. In 1802 he began a new, over-life size clay model, which, with outside support, he was able to have cast in plaster. An English art connoisseur, Thomas Hope ordered a marble copy of it.
In the figure of Jason there are unmistakable echoes of Antiquity - principally the Apollo Belvedere but also the Doryphorus of Polyclitus can be considered as models. Following the instructions of Winckelmann, Thorvaldsen developed the representation of his mythological male figures not by imitating nature but by the close study of classical sculptures. A central feature of Neoclassical sculpture is the "contour", the outline of a sculpture. The clarity of the contour focuses the art on its "spiritual" form.