(b. 1462, Firenze, d. 1521, Firenze)

Perseus Frees Andromeda

c. 1513
Tempera grassa on wood, 70 x 120 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

None of Piero di Cosimo's works are signed or dated, making a reconstruction of his stylistic development extremely tentative. The dating of this Andromeda Frees Perseus is therefore unclear, although critics are generally agreed that it is a work of the artist's maturity since it contains stylistic elements reflecting the transition to sixteenth-century art: the presence of Leonardesque "sfumato", the Raphaelesque typology of the figures and the proto-Mannerist character of the overall structure.

Ovid tells how Andromeda, daughter of an Ethiopian king, was chained to a rock by the sea-shore as a sacrifice to a sea-monster. Perseus (the son of Danaë whom Jupiter caused to conceive after turning himself into a shower of golden rain) flying overhead on Pegasus, the winged horse, fell in love at first sight. He swooped down just in time, slew the monster and released Andromeda.

This painting is Piero di Cosimo's most seemingly confident and outstanding later work to survive. It manifests all the qualities that kept his style attractive and relevant until his death in 1521.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.