Biagio d'Antonio: Scenes from the Story of the Argonauts (1465)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

Two paintings from the Italian artist Biagio d’Antonio Tucci (1446-1516). These 2 panels show scenes from story of the Argonauts. In this story Jason seeks the Golden Fleece together with a group of heroes called the Argonauts (named after their ship the Argo). The father of Jason, Aeson, was the rightful king of Iolcos but his half-brother Pelias took the throne for himself. When Jason became an adult he confronted Pelias for the throne. Pelias swore an oath that he would give the throen to Jasos if he would bring the Golden Fleece (the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram). Getting the golden fleece was a dangerous journey and Pelias expected that it would be fatal to Jason. The gods however protected Jason during his journey. In the end Jason managed to get the golden fleece and returned to his homeland. Pelias refused to give up his throne and through sorcery Pelias was killed. The son of Pelias, Acastus, drove Jason off and Jason settled in Corinth with his wife Medea. The couple got several children but after 10 years Jason fell in love with another woman and left Medea. Medea took revenge by killing the children of Jason. Jason himself was killed when the stern of the rotting Argo fell on him when he was sleeping under it. The two panels show different scenes from the entire story, Jason is in golden armor, pink cloak, and winged helmet.

Top panel (from left to right):
- Jason is charged by King Pelias to retrieve the Golden Fleece
- Jason then mounts his horse to seek adventurers to follow him
- Jason, hercules and Orpheus (with his viol), consult the centaur Chiron on top of Mount Pelion
- Jason’s ship, the Argo, sails along the Mysian coast. 
- Hylas, Hercules’ squire, is pulled into a pool by nymphs and never seen again
- the hunt for the Calydonian boar

Bottom Panel:
- Jason arrives at Colchis greeted by King Aeëtes with his daughters Medea and Chalciope
- Jason performs his appointed tasks under the protection of the sorceress Medea
- Jason plowing the grove of Ares, where the Golden Fleece is guarded by a dragon
- Orpheus lulls the dragon to sleep so that Jason may steal the fleece the Golden Fleece from the labyrinth (the round building) and flees with Medea
- Aeëtes is angry that Jason managed to get the Golden Fleece with the help of Medea and sends Medea’s brother in pursuit (perhaps the young man riding in haste across the castle’s moat)

The two painting are from around 1465.

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