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Andromeda and Perseus

Artist: Paolo de Matteis (Salerno, 1662 - 1728, Naples) Primary
Date: 1700-1710
17th century
Dimensions: 30.75 x 29.5 in. (78.11 x 74.93 cm)
Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Campania
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation via The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT, 2002
Accession Number: 2009.01.09
On View: 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.


Fairfield University Art Museum, Fairfield, Connecticut, ekphrasis i: Jeanne Delarm-Nori (MFA'12), June 15- September 15, 2011


(Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi [1878-1955] Rome-Florence); sold to Samuel H. Kress [1863-1955] on 1 July 1950 as Giuseppe Cesari; gift 1962 to the Museum of Art, Science and Industry, Bridgeport, CT; gift 2002 to the Bellarmine Museum of Art, Fairfield University [now called the Fairfield University Art Museum], no. K1786.


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Refers to the style and period of architecture, visual art, decorative art, music, and literature of western Europe and the Americas from about 1590 to 1750. The style is characterized by balance and wholeness, often with an emphasis on spectacle and emotional content, and a tendency toward contrasts of light against dark, mass against void, and the use of strong diagonals and curves.
Unique works in which images are formed primarily by the direct application of pigments suspended in oil, water, egg yolk, molten wax, or other liquid, arranged in masses of color, onto a generally two-dimensional surface.
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