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Head of Medusa

A work made of plaster.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of plaster.


c. 1801


Antonio Canova
Italian, 1757-1822

About this artwork

Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova dominated Rome’s artistic scene at the turn of the 19th century. This plaster is a partial model for his large-scale marble statue Perseus Holding the Head of Medusa. According to Greek mythology, Medusa was a serpent-haired creature called a Gorgon whose gaze turned anyone who beheld her into stone. Perseus killed Medusa as she slept by using a mirrored shield to approach her and sever her head, which he continued to carry as a weapon, using it to petrify his enemies. Here, Canova depicted Medusa’s decapitated head, with its blank eyes, slack mouth, and cheeks caressed by snakes.


On View, Gallery 219


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Antonio Canova


Head of Medusa


Italy (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.




Credit Line

Lacy Armour Endowment

Reference Number


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