Medusa (Detail) by Caravaggio
Painting, Oil on canvas mounted on wood
Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence, Italy)
In Greek myth, Perseus used the severed snake-haired head of the Gorgon Medusa as a shield with which to turn his enemies to stone. By the sixteenth century Medusa was said to symbolize the triumph of reason over the senses; and this may have been why Cardinal Del Monte commissioned Caravaggio to paint Medusa as the figure on a ceremonial shield presented in 1601 to Ferdinand I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The poet Marino claimed that it symbolized the Duke’s courage in defeating his enemies.
Web Gallery of Art