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French or Flemish, Perseus turning the Followers of Phineus into Stone

Key facts
Full title Perseus turning the Followers of Phineus into Stone
Artist French or Flemish
Date made 1650s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 165 × 243.4 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Lt-General W. Thornton, 1837
Inventory number NG83
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Perseus turning the Followers of Phineus into Stone
French or Flemish

This chaotic and animated scene shows the followers of Phineus bursting in on the wedding feast of Perseus and Andromeda. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Phineus has previously been engaged to Andromeda and intends to murder Perseus, but Perseus is fighting back. Standing in the centre wearing a red cape, he holds a head in his outstretched arm: Medusa’s. Her hair is made of snakes which have the power to turn Phineus’s followers to stone – the face and arm of the figure in blue are turning grey. Just behind Perseus, the figure with his javelin raised has already turned to stone. Phineus himself is out of sight. Floating above Perseus, Pallas holds a spear and shield with Medusa’s head. In the top right corner, Andromeda watches the scene unfold through an arch.

This painting entered the National Gallery as a work by Nicolas Poussin, but it is now thought to be by unknown Flemish artist.

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