Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites

“Perseus and Andromeda” by Frederic Leighton

Frederic, Lord Leighton - Perseus and Andromeda - Google Art Project

“Perseus and Andromeda” by Frederic Leighton

“Perseus and Andromeda” by Frederic Leighton dramatically portrays the Greek mythological story of Andromeda. In contrast to the classic Greek origins of the tale, Leighton used a Gothic style for the artwork. Perseus is depicted flying above, on his winged horse Pegasus. He shoots an arrow that hits the sea monster, who turns to attack the hero. Andromeda’s white body is contrasted against the dark masses of the monster’s wing, and depicted as pure innocence. A halo of light surrounds Pegasus and Perseus.

In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of the King and Queen of Ethiopia. Her mother, the beautiful, but vain queen boasted that Andromeda, her daughter was more beautiful than all the sea nymphs. The sea nymphs were the daughters of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and when the nymphs heard of her claims, they protested to their father. Poseidon, to punish the Queen for her hubris, called up a sea monster to wreak havoc on Ethiopia and this monster placed the kingdom at risk. In response, the Queen, together with the King, decided to sacrifice their daughter, Princess Andromeda, to the beast.

Andromeda was chained to a rock as an offering to the monster. Fortunately, Perseus was travelling home on his winged horse, Pegasus, after battling and killing with Medusa. He rescued Andromeda by killing the beast. The couple fell in love, but the Princess was already betrothed to Phineus. Perseus challenged Phineus at the wedding, but the fight was drawn to a conclusion when Phineus was turned to stone after Perseus revealed the head of Medusa to Phineus. Perseus had killed Medusa, but any mortal man who looked on Medusa’s dead face could still turn to stone.

Frederic Leighton

Sir Frederic Leighton, the artist, was successful and famous during his lifetime with many works depicted historical, biblical, and classical subjects. Leighton was the bearer of the shortest-lived peerage in history,  1st Baron Leighton. After only one day his hereditary peerage became extinct upon his death. Leighton remained a bachelor with no legitimate children.

Leighton’s house in Holland Park, London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum. It has many of his drawings and paintings, as well as some of his former art collection including works by Old Masters and his contemporaries.

Exploring Perseus

Exploring Leighton

Reflections

  • Why was the “Perseus and Andromeda” story such a favourite subject for artists?
  • Which is your favourite painting of “Perseus and Andromeda”?
  • With Greek mythical names so prevalent in the arts and literature, why have they disappeared from everyday use today?

Perseus and Andromeda

  • Title:             Perseus and Andromeda
  • Artist:           Frederic Leighton
  • Created:      1891
  • Media:         Oil paint on Canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 2,350 mm (92.52 in). Width: 1,292 mm (50.87 in)
  • Museum:      Walker Art Gallery

Frederic Leighton

~~~

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates

~~~


Photo Credit:1) Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons