- Museum number
Perseus disarming and the origin of coral, with the sea monster on its back at left
Pen and brown ink, on blue paper
- Production date
Height: 192 millimetres
Width: 316 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: J.C. Robinson, ‘Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.’, London, 1876, no. 204; P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Raphael and His Circle', London, 1962, I, no. 87; J. Rowlands, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Rubens, 'Drawing and Sketches', 1977, no. 51
Pouncey & Gere 1962
Perseus, having killed the monster, removes his winged sandals while the sea-nymphs amuse themselves by using Medusa's head to turn sea-weed into coral (cf. Ovid, 'Metamorphoses', iv. 740, etc.).
A coarsely simplified brush-drawing at Munich (2521), heightened with white and squared and evidently a studio-repetition, shows the monster and most of Perseus. A copy of the whole composition, extensively reworked by Rubens, is in the Department (1851,0208.322, repr. pl. 80, placed as Hind 50C)*. The monster is repeated, with appropriate variations in the head and with the tail in a different position, in a pen and ink drawing of 'Hercules and the Hydra' in the collection of Mr. Michael Jaffé; this is, as the owner himself was the first to note, a preparatory study for a composition the engraving of which, by Giorgio Ghisi (B. xv, p. 402, 44), is inscribed: "I. BA. BER. IN. V." (i.e. 'Giovanni Battista Bertani inventor'). Hartt (orally) dated 1895,0915.645 in the same period as studies for the Camerino dei Cesari in the Palazzo Ducale, decorated 1536-8.
Other representations by Giulio of incidents in the legend of Perseus are known. A squared pen and wash drawing in the Ellesmere Collection (27.5 x 19.2 cm.), repr. Metz, 'Imitations' (Weigel 2897), represents Perseus hovering with drawn sword above the monster, with Andromeda chained to the rock. The outlines are indented and the drawing was evidently used in the preparation of an engraving which may well have been conceived as a pendant to an anonymous and undescribed sixteenth-century engraving (impression in BM, Sloane Coll., V. 8-41) showing Pegasus in l. foreground springing from the blood which pours from Medusa's severed head, held by Perseus. To r. two nymphs peer round a rock at her body. The engraving agrees with Lord Ellesmere's drawing in size and in the scale of the figures. Another, differently shaped (9 1/4 x 10 1/2 in.; i.e. 23.5 x 26.6 cm.), drawing of the same subject, in pen and brown wash heightened with white and formerly in the collection of Thomas Hudson, is described in the catalogue of the William Mayor Collection (1874, no. 43, 1875, no. 46). Nys in his 1627 list of the Mantua Collection records in the 'Sala del Lozone' a picture of unspecified authorship (but listed with others which there is reason to attribute to Giulio) of "Perseo che taglia la testa a Gorgone" (Luzio, p. 153).
A drawing at Chantilly (FR 66; Hartt 201) of Perseus binding on his sandals and being armed by Minerva and Mercury is described by Hartt as a modello for the Sala degli Stucchi.
Literature: JCR 204; Hartt 308; M. Jaffé, 'Rubens and Giulio Romano at Mantua', in Art Bulletin, xl (1958), pp. 327 f
*Another Rubens copy after Giulio in the Department is Hind 50 which he is right in supposing to be connected with the series of the Triumph of Scipio: it repeats, in reverse, the composition of Louvre 3549 (Hartt, fig. 474).
Another Rubens copy, after Giulio in the view of some recent critics but traditionally and in our opinion rightly held to be after Raphael, is Hind 49 (Payne Knight Bequest, Oo,9.23), representing the man dropping from a wall in the 'Incendio'. This corresponds with Albertina S.R. 275 and Parker, 'Ashmolean' 651. All three differ from the fresco in showing no drapery, in the placing of the r. arm and in the shape of the cast shadow and are presumably copies after a lost study.
A drawing in pen and brown wash with white heightening (1946,0713.353*) of Hercules and the Lion is a copy of a chiaroscuro woodcut (B. xii, p. 119, 17), from which it differs mainly in the omission of the inscription which gives Giuseppe Niccolò Vicentino as the engraver and Raphael as the designer. The suggestion made in the Fenwick Catalogue (p. 93, no. 9) that this drawing may have been retouched by Rubens seems to us untenable. See also NG. 853 k and m; 1950,0210.1; 1893,0731.19; 1895,0915.653 and 1895,0915.1043.]
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1962/3 Nov-Sep, BM, Raphael and his Circle (P+G)
1977 BM, Rubens drawings and sketches, no.51
1990 Mar-Sept, BM, Fake?, no.17
2002 June-Sep, Edinburgh, N.G.Scotland, 'Rubens and Italian Art'
2002 Sep-Dec, Nottingham, Djanogly Art Gall, 'Rubens and Italian Art'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number