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The Capture of the Golden Fleece
Jean-François de Troy
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This is the third of a series of seven illustrations of the story of Jason made as sketches for cartoons for the Gobelins tapestry works in Paris. The Gallery also owns the first sketch from the series: Jason swearing Eternal Affection to Medea.

Jason has set out to capture the Golden Fleece, and has used the sorceress Medea’s magic to put to sleep the dragon guarding it. Medea looks up at the Fleece and gestures in wonder towards Jason and the slumbering dragon. Some of the Jason’s shipmates admiringly watch him pull down the Fleece, while others load the Argo ready for the triumphant departure of Jason and Medea.

De Troy made several changes between his sketch of this scene and its related cartoon (Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand), perhaps reflecting alterations requested by Philibert Orry, who had commissioned the tapestry series on behalf of the French king.

Key facts
Artist Jean-François de Troy
Artist dates 1679 - 1752
Full title The Capture of the Golden Fleece
Series Sketches for the Story of Jason
Date made 1742-3
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 55.6 x 81 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Mr and Mrs Eliot Hodgkin through the Art Fund, 1987
Inventory number NG6512
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Sketches for the Story of Jason

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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.

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