The Argonauts in Colchis

The Argonauts came to Colchis to seize the enchanted Golden Fleece. They could only achieve their goal with the help of the King of Colchis’s daughter, Medea. She told Jason how to kill the serpent protecting the Fleece, plough a field with the help of brazen bulls, sow it with the serpent’s teeth, and kill the warriors who then sprang from the soil (depicted at the right hand side of the painting).

Bartolomeo di Giovanni was celebrated for his expertise as a narrative painter. In this painting he cleverly fitted the complicated details of this legend into one landscape structure. He also adapted the story so that it provided an appropriate compliment to Lorenzo Tornabuoni and Giovanna degli Albizzi, whose wedding this painting celebrates. Medea is no longer an evil witch, but the virtuous helper of her future husband Jason.

Key facts

Artist dates
active 1488 - about 1500
Full title
The Argonauts in Colchis
Date made
Medium and support
Tempera and oil on wood
83.2 × 163.8 cm
Acquisition credit
On loan from The Mari Cha Collection Limited
Inventory number
Location in Gallery