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Andromeda and the Sea Monster

Andromeda and the Sea Monster
marble group; on an integrally carved base
44 1⁄4 in. (112.4 cm.) high
With M. Marcussen Ltd., London,
where acquired in 1964 by the family of the present owner.
I. Wardropper, European Sculpture, 1400-1900: in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven, 2011, pp. 148-151.
Special notice

Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email:
These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

‘Save that her hair gently stirred in the breeze, and warm tears were trickling down her cheeks – he [Perseus] would have thought her a marble statue.’ – Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV, 663-752.
The story of Perseus and Andromeda has enjoyed enduring popularity in the history of Western art. An archetypal damsel-in-distress tale, it features all the components of a popular fairy-tale including a beautiful princess, a dashing hero and an evil monster. It has been in existence since antiquity and its best-known literary version can be found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The story tells of the Queen Cassiopeia who boasts that her daughter, Andromeda, is more beautiful than the Nereids, the nymphs of the sea. The Queen’s hubris enrages the god Poseidon who sends the sea monster Cetus to destroy her kingdom. Cassiopeia and her husband King Cepheus then offer their daughter as a sacrifice to the monster chaining her to a rock on the sea shore, believing it to be the only way to appease Poseidon’s wrath. Meanwhile, the hero Perseus is flying over the kingdom on his winged horse, Pegasus. He sees Andromeda chained to the rock and is so struck by her beauty he falls in love and slays the sea monster, freeing the princess and later the two are married.
The story as an artistic motif had an explosion of popularity in the Renaissance period that continued into the Baroque, attributable, at least in part, to the fact that it gave painters and sculptors licence to depict an erotically charged scene of a bound nude female through the pretext of classical mythology. Seventeenth century depictions of Andromeda tend to focus on the theatricality and drama of the scene. The present lot is no exception; Andromeda is depicted struggling to break free from her chains and the strong winds blowing off the sea are implied in the piece of cloth tied into her elaborate hairstyle and wrapping round her body.
Depictions of Cetus vary significantly but his reduction in scale is not unusual in a sculptural context as can also be seen in Domenico Guidi’s 1694 interpretation of the theme, now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (accession no. 67.34). In the present lot, the sea monster takes on the appearance of a monstrous dolphin, with an elongated body snaking down the rock, well-suited to the columnar composition of this piece.
Typically, when Andromeda is depicted without her rescuer, Perseus’ presence is implied in her turned head and upward gaze as if she has just caught sight of him in the skies. However, the artist of the present lot has chosen to focus on the pathos and distress of the heroine, eyes cast down with two tears on her cheek, unaware of what the viewer knows to be true, that she will soon be free.

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