Loggia dei Lanzi

Perseus and Medusa
Benvenuto Cellini
bronze, 18 feet high
1545-54


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The triumphant Perseus

Perseus, with a curved sword, a gift of Mercury, wears winged sandals, like Mercury's, and a helmet with wings (resembling Mercury's hat). Although blood gushes from the severed head of Medusa, this sensational subject is not treated with horror or drama.
 
 

The torso

Cellini, a goldsmith, carefully worked this large bronze. Like Michelangelo, who signed the St. Peter's Pietà on a strap across the Madonna's bosom, Cellini signed this bronze work on the strap which crosses Perseus's torso.
 

The headless Medusa

Blood gushes from the severed neck of Medusa, one of the snake-haired Gorgons, who could turn men to stone.
 

The base and details

The niches of the base contain statuettes relating to the biography of Perseus: Danaë, his mother with the boy Perseus; Jupiter, Perseus's father who turned himself into a shower of gold to seduce Danaë; and Mercury and Minerva.

Details of Jupiter, Perseus's father, and the multi-breasted Diana of Ephesus

 

"Grotesque" details

Mannerist sculptors like Cellini often use grotesque details. See, for example, Giulio Romano's Palazzo del Te and Gucciego's Baranów Palace.


See also Cellini's Cosimo I.

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© 1999 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

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