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Hystoria Jasonis Thessaliae Principis de Colchica velleris aurei expeditione

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (printed and published)

  • Date:

    1563 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving on paper

  • Museum number:

    E.2464-1920

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case 95, shelf D, box 55

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

Jason fighting the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece (plate 12 though numbered '10'). The smoke coming out the urn given by Medea puts the dragon to sleep. In the background, the Argonauts and Aaetes. The main picture is depicted within a rectangular ornamental frame composed of swags, masks, cupids, etc. One of 26 plates in a bound volume; a pictorial illustration to the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece. The volume includes a title page, preface and 6 pages of text in Latin.

Place of Origin

Paris (printed and published)

Date

1563 (printed and published)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Engraving on paper

Marks and inscriptions

B.
Artist initial, lower left of main illustration.

Dimensions

Height: 23.9 cm volume, Width: 33.8 cm volume, Height: 23 cm page, Width: 32.7 cm page, approx, Height: 15.9 cm platemark, average, Width: 23 cm platemark, average

Object history note

There is some dispute on the order which should be attributed to the prints numbered 48, 49 and 50 by Robert-Dumesnil (E.2025-1908, E. 2462-1920, E.2463-1920 and E.2464-1920). Indeed, if you follow the myth, or the quatrains by Gohory, Jason confronts the bulls first, the giant second and the dragon last. But when a number was given to each plate in order to make a book out of the set, R.D. 48 was given the number 11, though actually being the 10th plate, R.D. 49, was numbered 12 instead of 11, and R.D. 50, 10 instead of 12. This could perhaps be explained by the fact that Jason had to sow the teeth of a dragon after facing the bulls, but before fighting the giants. The sleepless dragon was probably thought to be the dragon in question. In the album in the collection of the V&A (E. 2454-1920, E.2479-1920), part of this mistake was corrected: R.D. 48 was put in 10th position, but R.D. 49 is 12th instead of being 11th and R.D. 50 is 11th instead of being 12th.

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, thus reproducing the model given by Rosso Fiorentino in the Gallery of Francis I at Fontainebleau. Léonard Thiry, of Flemish origin, was one of Rosso's best assistants, as his salary at Fontainebleau, and Vasari's comment on him suggest.

The set was published in Paris in 1563, in both Latin and in French, and it was preceded by a letterpress text including a privilege, a dedication to the king, and four pages on the story of Jason written by Jacques Gohory. In most editions, we also find quatrains by the same poet, printed in a cartouche, and used as captions 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 in order to present it to the young Charles IX. The album kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum is an impression of the Latin edition and misses the poetic caption, as well as the numbers that seem to have been added in a second state. It is therefore very probable that it belongs to the first state, except for the last print. Indeed the 26th plate is numbered and must belong to the second state. The V&A also keeps scattered prints of this set: see 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 of them are kept in Leiden (Library of the University) and the other three are in Paris (Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts).

Jason had to face the sleepless dragon to finally reach the golden fleece. He used a potion Medea had given him, to put the beast to sleep.

Descriptive line

Engraving from Hystoria Jasonis Thessaliae Principis de Colchica velleris aurei expeditione, by René Boyvin after Léonard Thiry; Paris, France, 1563. One of 26 plates in a bound volume. Jason fighting the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece (plate 12 though numbered '10').

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

Boyvin, René and Leonard Thiry. Hystoria Jasonis Thessaliae Principis de Colchica velleris aurei expeditione: cum figuris aere excusis, Earumque Expositione... Paris, 1563.
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. p. 40, no. 50.
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.
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. p. 37, no. 39.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1920, London: HMSO, 1922.

Materials

Paper; Printing ink

Techniques

Engraving (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Mythology; Golden Fleece; Dragons; Fighting

Categories

Prints; Frames; Illustration

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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