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Luca Giordano: 'Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone'

Andromeda was betrothed to Phineas, until Perseus rescued her from a sea monster and it was agreed she would marry him instead. At the wedding celebrations Phineas and his followers burst in to attack Perseus, who unveiled the severed head of the gorgon, Medusa, and turned them to stone. The subject comes from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (V, 1-235).This scene of high drama, recalling more tranquil feasts represented in 16th-century Venetian painting, is focused on the figure of Perseus in rich blue and his furious assailants, led by Phineas, who wears a helmet in the far left of the painting, turning the colour of stone as they prepare to hurl their spears.

This is one of several versions of the subject by Giordano. The identity of the patron is not known but it was acquired with its companions, 'The Death of Jezabel' (private collection) and 'The Rape of the Sabines' (private collection), in Genoa in 1709 by Costantino Balbi.


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