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Image of 'Perseus Turning Phineas to Stone' by Giordano, early 1680s.

'Perseus turning Phineas to Stone' by Giordano, early 1680s

This huge painting, entitled Perseus turning Phineas to Stone, was made by the Italian Luca Giordano, in the early 1680s.

The subject comes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and tells the story of the princess Andromeda, who was betrothed to Phineas. As she was being offered in sacrifice to a marine monster, Andromeda was rescued by the hero Perseus. She agreed to marry him instead, and the wedding was followed by a great banquet, bloodily interrupted by Phineas coming to claim the bride. Outnumbered, Perseus was forced to bring forth his secret weapon - the severed head of the gorgon Medusa, which turned to stone anyone who looked on it. This scene of high drama is focused on the hero, Perseus, in blue, who is isolated on the right, and on Phineas and his followers on the left. Giordano depicts the exact moment that the villains transform to statues - they are turning grey from the head downwards before our eyes.

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