Andromeda and Perseus
Paolo de Matteis
(Salerno, 1662 - 1728, Naples)
30.75 x 29.5 in. (78.11 x 74.93 cm)
Europe, Italy, Campania
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation via The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT, 2002
Bellarmine Hall Galleries
A beautiful princess, chained to a rock, watches as a sea monster approaches – only the sudden arrival of a hero on a flying horse will spare her from being devoured. According to the Greek myth, Andromeda was offered in sacrifice appease to Poseidon, god of the sea, after her parents praised her beauty above that of his offspring. Perseus, brandishing the severed head of the Gorgon Medusa, happened upon the scene by chance. Taking pity on her beauty, he swooped in – quite literally – to save the day. The subject, best known from the Renaissance onward through the retelling by the Roman poet Ovid, was a popular one among patrons and artists. Paolo de Matteis, who was one of the most prominent painters in southern Italy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, painted at least two other versions; this one was commissioned by the Buonaccorsi family for their palace in Macerata.
This painting was part of the group of works donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to the Museum of Art, Science and Industry in Bridgeport, CT in 1962. When that museum became the Discovery Museum in the early 1990's, the Kress paintings were transferred to Fairfield University, where they formed the core of what would become the Fairfield University Art Museum.