Bertel Thorwaldsen

Danish (1770–1844)

Mercury About to Slay Argus

Early 19th century


Extended loan from A. F. Madeira

TR 3080

Thorwaldsen was one of the most important neo-classical artists of his time. He worked for most of his life in Rome. Mercury, the son of Jupiter and Maia, was the messenger of the gods. He is usually represented with his winged sandals (telaria) and a winged cap (petasus). Here, Mercury helps Jupiter to free his lover Io, who was being watched by the monster Argus. Argus’ body was covered with one thousand eyes, some of which were open at all times. Mercury told long dull tales and played on his pipes until Argus went to sleep so deeply, that he closed all of his eyes. Mercury killed him, freeing Io.

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