Gypsotheca, Scarpa wing
Canova depicts Perseus as a proud winner with his arm tightly holding Medusa’s head and showcasing it as a trophy representing his completed mission. In his right hand he holds the hooked spade, given to him by Hermes, and on his head his helmet.
The nudity of this perfectly sculpted body is typical of Greek hero sculptures. It is important to notice how the composition of the piece recalls the Apollo del Belvedere sculpture, from which Canova drew inspiration. The artist started working on this piece in 1797 and sculpted the marble between 1800 and 1801. The sculpture was commissioned by French prosecutor Onorato Duveyriez but was bought by Pope Pius VII for two-thousand zecchini and placed in the Vatican Museum to compensate for the loss of the masterpieces taken by the French. Today you can still find it in the Vatican Museums beside the two fighters, Creugas and Damoxenos. Between 1804 and 1806 a second version was commissioned by Polish Countess Waleria Strynowska Tarnowska (1782-1849), and it’s currently preserved at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
● Inventory Number
Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, Venice (IT)
Vatican Museums, Vatican City
● Other versions
Metropolitan Museum, New York (USA)