Perseus was sent to seek her out and return with her head. This series of sculptures portrays an imaginary process in which Medusa transforms in order to defeat her enemies and protect her domain.
Medusa is depicted through four separate portraits each becoming increasingly grotesque as they describe the evolution from mortal to monster.
Bronze Monaco 1996
Edition of 8
Dimensions 1 Dimensions 2
Height 41cm 16.1in Height 42cm 16.5in
Wide 20cm 7.8in Width 23cm 9in
Depth 26cm 10.2in Depth 25cm 9.8in
Dimensions 3 Dimensions 4
Height 43cm 16.9in Height 43cm 16.9 in
Wide 22cm 8.6in Width 21cm 8.2in
Depth 23cm 9in Depth 22cm 8.6in
According to the myth, the Gorgons were said to be monstrous creatures covered with impenetrable scales, with hair of living snakes, great tusks like swine’s, brazen hands and golden wings. There were three sisters Medusa, Stheno and Euryale of whom only Medusa was mortal, and whose charge was to guard the entrance to the underworld. It was said that they were a race of warlike women who turned to stone all those who beheld them.
Still others say that Medusa was a beautiful woman with magnificent hair and that she attracted many suitors. This legend tells of how Poseidon seduced Medusa in the temple of Athena and, to punish this act, Athena changed Medusa’s hair into snakes. Later Perseus was sent to seek out Medusa and return with her head. In order to perform this task, Perseus was given several items, among them the helmet of Hades, which made him invisible, and a brazen shield in which he could see the mirror image of Medusa. This he used so he would not need to look directly at her, and it is said that it was Athena who guided his hand. Perseus placed the head in a purse, which he then used to defeat his enemies by showing them its contents and changing them to stone. When he returned he gave Medusa’s head to Athena, who inserted it in the center of her shield. It is sometimes said that Medusa was beheaded for Athena, as she alone was equal to Athena in beauty.
A sculpted head of a Gorgon was often placed above the portals on temples and upon grave markers to avert the forces of evil, and also on the shields of soldiers, as on the shield of Athena.