“Perseus and Andromeda” by Frederic Leighton dramatically portrays the Greek mythological story of Andromeda. In contrast to the classic 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. Pegasus and Perseus are surrounded by a halo of light.
In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of the Ethiopian King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. The beautiful but the vain queen, Cassiopeia’s hubris led her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the sea nymphs, who were the daughters of Poseidon, the god of the sea. When the nymphs heard of her claims, they protested to their father, who retaliated by calling up a sea monster called Cetus to wreak havoc on Ethiopia placing the kingdom at risk. In response, the Queen, together with the King, decided to sacrifice her daughter, Princess Andromeda, to the monster.
Andromeda was chained to a rock as an offering to the monster. Fortunately, Perseus was travelling home on his winged horse, Pegasus, after battling with Medusa. He rescued Andromeda by killing the beast. The couple fell in love, but the Princess was already betrothed to Phineus. Perseus argued with Phineus at the wedding, but the fight was drawn to a conclusion when Phineus was turned to stone after Perseus brandished the head of Medusa.
Sir Frederic Leighton was successful during his lifetime with many works depicted historical, biblical, and classical subject matter. 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 contains many of his drawings and paintings, as well as some of his former art collection including works by Old Masters and his contemporaries.
- 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
Essential Facts about the Artist:
- Name: Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton
- Born: 1830 – Scarborough, England, United Kingdom
- Died: 1896 (aged 65) – London, England
- Movement: Academicism, Neoclassicism and British Aestheticism
- Notable Works:
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates
Photo Credit:1) Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons