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Luca Giordano, Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone

Key facts
Full title Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone
Artist Luca Giordano
Artist dates 1634 - 1705
Date made about 1660
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 285 × 366 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1983
Inventory number NG6487
Location Room 32
Collection Main Collection
Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone
Luca Giordano

Perseus and Andromeda’s wedding feast has been violently interrupted by Phineas, to whom Andromeda was formerly betrothed. Giordano has illustrated the dramatic moment when Phineas and his followers attack Perseus. Heavily outnumbered, Perseus has unveiled the severed head of the gorgon Medusa, who he had recently slain. He averts his eyes, because all those who look on Medusa immediately turn to stone. His attackers have had no time to react, and Giordano has vividly portrayed their flesh turning from pink to stone grey.

Phineas is most likely the figure at the far left wearing the elaborate helmet and breastplate. His head and left side have already turned to stone and his mouth is frozen in a petrified scream, but his right arm and right leg are still pink with life. His two companions are suffering a similar transformation. The poses of Phineas and the figure in front of him are based on famous antique sculptures, a fact which would not have been lost on Giordano’s contemporaries.

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