Perseo trionfante by Antonio Canova

Perseus in Greek mythology

Perseo trionfante by Antonio Canova (1801) in the Vatican Museums, Rome

“Perseo trionfante” (or “Triumphant Perseus”) is a marble sculpture created by Italian Neoclassical artist Antonio Canova in the early 19th century. The sculpture depicts the mythological hero Perseus standing triumphantly over the decapitated head of Medusa, which he holds aloft in his left hand. In his right hand, he holds his sword, which he used to slay the Gorgon.

The sculpture was commissioned in 1804 by the English collector and patron of the arts, Henry Blundell, who wanted a sculpture of Perseus to add to his collection of ancient Roman and Greek artifacts. Canova completed the sculpture in 1806, and it was displayed in Blundell’s villa in Rome until it was sold to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1837.

“Perseo trionfante” is considered one of Canova’s masterpieces and is a prime example of Neoclassical sculpture. The work displays Canova’s ability to combine classical themes and motifs with contemporary artistic sensibilities, resulting in a sculpture that is both timeless and modern. The intense realism of the figure’s anatomy and expression, combined with the delicate details of the Gorgon’s snakes and Perseus’ winged sandals, make the sculpture a tour de force of the Neoclassical style.