(b. 1757, Possagno, d. 1822, Venezia)
Head of Medusa1804-06
Plaster, height 31 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The marble version of Perseus with the Head of Medusa (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) was carved by Canova for Countess Valeria Tarnowska. The sculptor wrote that he was also shipping a plaster of the Medusa head, lest the marble one add too much weight to the statue's outstretched arm. The countess could attach the lighter plaster to the arm instead, and, placing a lit candle inside the marble one, which is hollow, she could watch the eerie light effects. Like many other Neoclassical Medusa heads, Canova's is based on the ancient marble mask the Rondanini Medusa (Glyptothek, Munich).