Mythology on Canvas (Part 11)

The Perseus Series by Edward Burne-Jones (continued):

When her mother inappropriately (according to the convoluted etiquette of the gods) boasts of Andromeda’s beauty, this offends Poseidon. He inundates the coast of Aeithiopia (a fanciful Ethiopia) and sends the sea serpent, Cetus, to plague that country. The citizenry and rulers (i.e. her parents!) settle upon the “obvious” solution of offering Andromeda as a sacrifice to Cetus. Enter Perseus to rescue the naked (of course) maiden while she is chained to a rock at water’s edge.

The Rock of Doom by Edward Burn-Jones
The Rock of Doom by Edward Burn-Jones

He kills the sea serpent and frees Andromeda. In the following picture, The Doom Fulfilled, the action to the right is contrasted with the relaxed, almost reposeful stance of Andromeda.

The Doom Fulfilled by Edward Burne-Jones
The Doom Fulfilled by Edward Burne-Jones

All works out well in the end, and Perseus marries Andromeda. In The Baleful Head (the last painting of the series), we see a scene from the nineteenth century poem which I mentioned in Part 8. I now know that it is titled The Doom of King Acrisius and was written by William Morris (Thank you, Nevil Warbrook.). Perseus is showing Andromeda the head of Medusa by its reflection in what appears to be a bird bath or outdoor wash basin. Note that this time the hair of the Gorgon is shown as consisting of snakes.

The Baleful Head by Edward Burne-Jones
The Baleful Head by Edward Burne-Jones

Different paintings starting next week…

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