Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
A young man wielding a sword stands over a snake-haired creature who lies on the ground

A man wearing a helmet with plumage on top, armor, and a flowing cloak raises a sword over his head with his right hand. In his left hand he holds a shield in front of himself as he plants his right foot in between the legs of a woman lying on her back on the ground in front of him. The woman throws back her head, from which not hair, but many small, writhing snakes are growing. Her hands are outstretched in a gesture of helplessness as he thrusts the sword downward

Gallery Text

Ovid’s poetry served as an invaluable reference for scholars, artists, and cognoscenti. This bronze illustrates the episode from his Metamorphoses in which the handsome young son of Zeus slays Medusa. The sculpture’s composition of tightly twisted bodies and outstretched limbs dramatizes the youth’s attack on the female monster, who had the power to transform into stone any onlooker who met her gaze. Perseus’s raised right arm ignites a downward spiraling force toward Medusa’s terrorized face, alluding to the path soon to be taken by his sword. The luster of the bronze further references the flat polished surface of his shield, which he used as a mirror to see his target’s reflection. The Ginori factory in Doccia later used the model after which this object was cast to manufacture porcelain reproductions of the work for the growing art market.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Giovanni Battista Foggini, Italian (Florence, Italy 1652 - 1725 Florence, Italy)
Previously attributed to Jean Delcour, Flemish (Hamoir [Belgium] 1627 - 1707 Liege [Belgium])
Previously attributed to French 17th century Unidentified Artist
Perseus Slaying Medusa
Work Type
after 1690
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2220, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Rococo and Neoclassicism in the Eighteenth Century
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Bronze with brown and green patina
39.8 x 39 x 24 cm (15 11/16 x 15 3/8 x 9 7/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Judge Elbert H. Gary, New York, NY, sold [through American Art Association sale, no. 248, 1928]. Mrs. Joseph Heine, New York, NY, sold [through Sotheby's, no, 199, 1944]. Joseph Brummer, New York, NY, sold [through Sotheby's, Part I of his sale, April 20-23, 1949]; to Fogg Art Museum, 1949.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Annie Swan Coburn Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • The Grand Manner, exh. cat., Zanesville Art Institute (Zanesville, OH, 1950), no. 7
  • Gothic to Baroque in Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, exh. cat., Allentown Art Museum (Allentown, PA, 1960), no. 10, repr. p. 64, cklist p. 17
  • Klaus Lankheit, Florentinische Barockplastik: die Kunst am Hofe der Letzen Medici 1670-1743, Bruckmann Verlag (Munich, Germany, 1962), pp. 81-82
  • Frederick den Broeder, "Giovanni Battisti Foggini: David with the Head of Goliath", The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art (January 1967), vol. LIV, no. 1, pp. 22-26, p. 25, repr. as fig. 5
  • Joan Nissman and Howard Hibbard, Florentine Baroque Art from American Collections, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1969), no. 78, p. 70, repr. fig. 40
  • András Szilágyi, "La Lotta di Giasone col Drago: Rifacimenti di un Tema Ovidiano Nell'età Barocca", Acta Historiae Artium (Budapest, 1982), vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 49-60, p. 57, repr. in b/w as fig. 16
  • Éva Szmodis-Eszláry, "Un Bronzetto Sconosciuto di Giovanni Battista Foggini", Acta Historiae Artium (Budapest, 1982), vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 39-48, pp. 39, 42; repr. p. 44, fig. 7
  • Catherine Hess, Italian Ceramics: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA, 2002), p. 220, fig. 38L

Exhibition History

  • The Grand Manner, Art Institute, Zanesville, Zanesville, 04/04/1950 - 05/02/1950
  • Gothic To Baroque in Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, 10/29/1960 - 12/31/1960
  • Highlights from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 01/30/1964 - 03/01/1964
  • Exhibition of Baroque Art, Jewett Arts Center, Wellesley, 03/01/1965 - 03/31/1965
  • Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, Jewett Arts Center, Wellesley, 04/01/1967 - 04/30/1967
  • Florentine Baroque Art from American Collections, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 04/16/1969 - 06/15/1969
  • In Memoriam: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/1980 - 10/15/1980
  • 32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at