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Key facts
Full title Jason swearing Eternal Affection to Medea
Artist Jean-François de Troy
Artist dates 1679 - 1752
Series Sketches for the Story of Jason
Date made 1742-3
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 56.5 x 52.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Francis Falconer Madan, 1962
Inventory number NG6330
Location Room 40
Art route(s) B
Collection Main Collection
Jason swearing Eternal Affection to Medea
Jean-François de Troy

This is the first of the series of seven illustrations of the story of Jason made by Jean-François de Troy as sketches for cartoons for the Gobelins tapestry works in Paris. The Gallery owns another sketch from the same series: The Capture of the Golden Fleece.

According to the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book VII), Jason was sent to steal the Golden Fleece from Colchis on the Black Sea. He was aided by the sorceress Medea, daughter of the king of Colchis, whom he married but later deserted.

Here we see Jason and Medea deep in the woods at the altar of Hecate, a goddess associated with the moon and witchcraft. He grasps Medea’s hand and asks her to help him to capture the Golden Fleece, promising to marry her in return. Cupid shoots an arrow which is directed by Hymen, god of marriage, towards Jason’s heart. Jason swears to be true and Medea, believing him, gives him magic herbs for his protection.

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Sketches for the Story of Jason


Jason swearing Eternal Affection to Medea and The Capture of the Golden Fleece are two of a series of seven illustrations of the story of Jason. Based on episodes in the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses, they were made as sketches for cartoons for the Gobelins tapestry works in Paris.

The illustrations were commissioned on behalf of the king of France in 1742. The sketches were finished by 15 February 1743 and the full-size painted cartoons were completed by the end of August 1746. They arrived in Paris in September 1748 and weaving began at the Gobelins works the following year. No less than eight complete sets of tapestries were made, including one which was hung in the king’s room and throne room in the palace of Versailles. Another of the tapestry sets is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.