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Livre de la conqueste de la Toison d'Or

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (published)

  • Date:

    1563 (engraved)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thiry, Léonard (artist)
    Boyvin, René (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case EO, shelf 9

The artist who designed this print worked as assistant to the Italian artist, Rosso Fiorentino, at the French royal palace of Fontainebleau. The most clebrated interior at Fontainebleau was the Galerie Francois I, named after the then king, which featured fresco paintings set into elaborate plaster frames. This black and white print translates this idea into a form which was both much more affordable and portable, and thus enabled the influence of Fontainebleau to travel right across Europe.

Physical description

King Athamas advising his children, Phryxus and Helle, to flee (plate 2). King Athamas is standing on the left, his children before him. The main picture is depicted within an ornate strapwork border incorporating a rich array of grotesque ornament. Unnumbered and signed on plate (monogram within image, bottom centre).

Place of Origin

Paris (published)


1563 (engraved)


Thiry, Léonard (artist)
Boyvin, René (engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Leonardus Thiri. inue. Renatus. F. [1563].
Inscribed on plate 26

Unnumbered and signed B on plate (monogram within image, bottom centre).


Height: 15.8 cm Cut to, Width: 23.2 cm Cut to

Object history note

Robert Dumesnil, VIII. Nos. 7, 8, 13, 15-21 2nd state. Nos. 2, 23-25 3rd state. Nos. 1, 4, 9, 10 3rd state,with added shading. Nos. 7, 8, 20 have burin scratches since 1563 edition.

Historical context note

Plate from a series of twenty-six prints relating the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, engraved by René Boyvin after Léonard Thiry. Each scene is framed by an ornate border, reproducing the model created by Rosso Fiorentino in the Gallery of Francis I at Fontainebleau. Léonard Thiry, of Flemish origin, was one of Rosso's best aides, as his salary at Fontainebleau, and Vasari's comment on him suggest. The set was published in 1563, in Paris, in both Latin and French, and was preceded by a letterpress text: privilege, dedication to the King, and four pages on the story of Jason written by Jacques Gohory (1520-1576). In most editions, we also find quatrains by the same poet, printed in a cartouche, and used as a caption for each plate. Thanks to the privilege and dedication, we know that it was Jehan de Mauregard, an officer of the Crown, who had this set made to present to the young Charles IX.

The V&A keeps scattered prints of this set along with a complete album which is an impression of the Latin edition. See E.2454-1920 to 2479-1920, E.2019-1908 to 2028-1908, 26595 A to 26595 F and E.88A-1891 to E.88B-1891. All but one of the original drawings have survived. Twenty two are kept in Leiden (Library of the University) and the other three are in Paris (Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts).

As the oracle suggests that Phryxus and Helle should be sacrificed to bring the famine to an end, their father, Athamas, advises them to flee.

Descriptive line

René Boyvin after Léonard Thiry. King Athamas advising his children, Phryxus and Helle, to flee. Plate 2 from Livre de la conqueste de la Toison d'Or. France, 1563.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The French Renaissance in Prints from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Los Angeles, 1994. p. 309.
The French Renaissance in Prints from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Los Angeles, 1994. p. 466
Zerner, Henri. Thiry, Leonard. Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press [9/12/05], http:///www.groveart.com/
Osborne, Harold /Jordan, Harold Fontainebleau in Hugh Brigstocke, ed The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Oxford University Press 2001. Grove Art Online. Oxford Universiry Press, 2005 [9/12/05], http:///www.groveart.com/
Robert-Dumesnil, A.P.F. Le peintre-graveur français. Paris, 1835-71. vol VIII, nos. 39-64. This image p. 37, no. 40.
Boyvin, René and Leonard Thiry. Liure de la Conqueste de la Toison d'or par le Prince Iason de Tessalie; faict par figures auec exposition d'icelles. A Paris. Auec prieulege du Roy. 1563.
Zorach, Rebecca. Blood, milk, ink, gold : abundance and excess in the French Renaissance. Chicago & London: University of Chicago, 2005. 314 p., ill. ISBN 0226989372. pp. 158-188 and 271-275.
Linzeler, A. and Jean Adhémar., Inventaire du fonds français; graveurs du seizième siècle (Paris: M. Le Garrec; Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1932-1935, 1932): vol. 1, p. 174.
Levron, J., René Boyvin, graveur angevin du XVIe siècle, avec le catalogue de son oeuvre et la reproduction de 114 estampes (Anger, France: Les Lettres et la Vie Française. Éditions Jacques Petit, 1941), cat. 19.


Paper; Printing ink


Engraving (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Mythology; Strapwork; Golden fleece


Prints; Frames; Illustration; Ornament prints


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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