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medusa's head

Two awesome renderings of Medusa in Florence. One already showed up in the previous post: Cellini's bronze statue of Perseus holding Medusa's head, in the gallery on the Piazza della Signoria. The other is Caravaggio's 'Medusa', in the Uffizi museum. Painted on an actual shield, this circular painting must be one of the most vivid depictions of the freshly beheaded Gorgon.

Caravaggio - Medusa

In Greek mythology, after being raped by Poseidon, Medusa grew hair of living snakes, and she was so terrible to behold that anyone who looked at her turned into stone. Perseus, however, managed to cut off her head by not looking at her directly, but at her reflection in his bronze shield. And her head, which Perseus took as a trophy, continued to be a mask of terror...

Seen live, the convex surface of Caravaggio's shield makes the face with its bulging eyes and gaping mouth seem to protrude from the background, dramatically emphasizing her 'beheadedness', which is captured in the moment when she is aware of it herself. As a Guardian review of the painting describes it, "this is both a horrific and horrified image, as the eyes of the gorgon are fixed forever on the terrible realisation of who she is."


florence sculpture

Some random samples of sculpture from the overwhelming open-air museum that is Florence... So overwhelming, in fact, that the city has been known to induce Stendhal syndrome , after the French writer Stendhal who suffered from it on vi… Read the full post »

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