'Head of Medusa'
Museum no. A.14-1964
In the Greek myth, the Gorgons Stheno, Medusa was one of three hideous sisters. She was the only mortal of the three. They were winged, had hair of snakes and turned all who looked at them to stone. Benvenuto Cellini, one of the most celebrated Italian Renaissance sculptors, is famed for his monumental statue of Perseus. Perseus was the hero who beheaded Medusa with the aid of a reflection in the polished bronze surface of his shield (a gift from the goddess Athena) so to avoid her deadly gaze. Medusa's head is modelled with hair writhing with snakes. The final sculpture stands in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence. This bronze sculpture includes Perseus' hand holding the head and is believed to be one of many models made before the final piece was cast. Almost all the other models for this work are now lost.