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Andromeda e il mostro

Pittore attivo a Roma, fine XVI - inizi XVII secolo

Painter active in Rome
late 16th - early 17th century

Andromeda and the Monster

Oil on canvas

137 x 102 cm.
Framed 152 x 118 cm.
D23-080 Sold Request information

The subject of the painting, derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses, is inspired by the myth of Princess Andromeda, daughter of the King of Ethiopia Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia.

The heroine's misfortune was to have a mother who praised her beauty as superior even to that of the Nereids, the sea nymphs daughters of the god Poseidon. According to mythology, the girl was therefore chained to a cliff and offered as a sacrifice to the terrible monster sent to appease the wrath of the nymphs, offended by Cassiopeia's unforgivable pride.

Consider that the depiction of this myth, and in particular its climax with Andromeda offered to the monster, had great fortune in Roman Baroque painting of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, often commissioned as a subject to decorate the sumptuous private rooms of the aristocratic palaces of the City.

The beautiful maiden is depicted here according to an iconography particularly dear to the artists of this period, with her pose evoking the classical goddesses, chained to a rock and, just as described in the words of Ovid, of great sensuality.
''as soon as he saw her (Perseus, her liberator) bound with his arms to the hard rock, if it had not been for a slight breeze moving her hair and the tepid weeping that descended from her eyes, he would have believed her to be a marble statue ... without knowing it he caught fire and was astonished and enraptured by the image of beauty he saw ...'' (Metamorphoses IV, vv. 672-683).

Naked, with a transparent veil at the level of her pubis, her hands tied to the rock on the shore and her face tense with fear of the imminent danger, with the sea monster with its gaping jaws to which she must be sacrificed, this is how we find her in this painting, before Perseus arrives to save her. Considering therefore the context of reference, the canvas seems to have been created as a pretext to offer the viewer an image of an extremely sensual, almost erotic female nude, as an object of pleasure for aristocratic patrons of the 16th and 17th century, who took great delight in possessing such compositions and showing them off in their collections.

Finally, despite her Ethiopian origins, Andromeda is here immortalised with snow-white skin, a detail that must have winked at the tastes and aesthetic canons of the patrons, who would certainly not have liked a figure with black skin as a beauty to be admired.

The work, which is to be attributed to the hand of an author active in Rome at the turn of the century, is iconographically inspired by the figure of Andromeda painted by Polidoro da Caravaggio in one of the frescoes on the façade of the Palazzo del Marchese del Bufalo-Cancellieri, once located near the Trevi Fountain (imm.1) ( The figure of the monster with gaping jaws, on the other hand, is taken from an engraving of Andromeda and the Monster by Agostino Carracci, dating from around 1590 (imm.2) (


The painting is sold complete with an attractive gilded frame and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and descriptive iconographic card.

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