Artwork of the Month

July 2014

Alfred-Désiré Lanson (French, 1851–1898)
Jason and the Golden Fleece, c. 1884
Bronze, rich brown-green patina, 39 3/8 in.
Signed on base, left: Lanson scpt. Inscribed on base, right: Susse fres edts Paris. Stamped: on base, back: COPYRIGHT BY SUSSE FRES 1895
2002.48

Alfred-Désiré Lanson was trained at the École des Beaux-arts under the sculptors Aimé Millet, François Jouffroy, and Pierre Louis Rouillard. His work included mythological and religious subjects, portraits, and medals, and he earned numerous accolades throughout his illustrious career. He obtained a third-class medal at the Salon of 1875, a first-class medal in 1880, the Grand Prix at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, and ultimately became a Knight of the Legion of Honor. Lanson’s 1876 entry for the Salon, the plaster sculpture of Jason and the Golden Fleece on which the present version is based earned him the prestigious Prix de Rome.

The sculpture depicts the mythological hero Jason triumphantly presenting the Golden Fleece, which he had earned after performing three difficult tasks, with the help of his eventual wife, the sorceress Medea. In its dynamism, Lanson’s work differs from the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s famous version of the scene (1803, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen). The Susse foundry, which was one of oldest in Europe, cast Lanson’s Jason in three sizes: 100, 75, and 50 cm. The foundry considered the Jason to be one of its most distinguished casts.