Eye Candy for Today: Caravaggio’s Medusa

Medusa, Cagavaggio Merisi
Medusa, Cagavaggio Merisi

On the Google Art Project. Click in the lower right of the image for zoom controls.

The original is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Students of drawing and anatomy may feel, as I do, that the mouth of the Medusa is painted as if from a head that is facing the viewer almost directly, while the head itself is turned three quarter and tilted at a different angle than would be a head associated with the position of the mouth.

Never one to shy way from drama or provocation (and a master of draftsmanship), Caravaggio has apparently deliberately twisted their relationship, subconsciously disconcerting the viewer and adding to the horror.

The work is painted on a shield, presumably representing the one on which Athena mounted the severed Gorgon’s head after receiving it from Perseus.



2 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Caravaggio’s Medusa”

  1. Putting the image of the Medusa on a shield celebrates the ingenuity of Perseus who killed her. The Medusa was so horrible that any human who looked at her would die. Perseus polished his bronze shield like a mirror so that he would not have to look directly at the Medusa. In that way he could see her with impunity and was able to kill her.

    The gift of a shield with such an image thus celebrates a warrior’s cleverness and resourcefulness.

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