Details of Florence: the bas-relief of Perseo and Andromeda at the Loggia dei Lanzi

Looking up while busy admiring the spectacular statues of the Loggia dei Lanzi including the statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa (1555) by Benvenuto Cellini, you might have missed to notice the beautiful bas-relief placed right at the base of this statue.
This square bronze bas-relief depicting an episode from the myth of Andromeda is also a work of Cellini and is part of the decoration on the marble base of the sculptural group, together with the bronze statuettes of Mercury, Jupiter, Minerva and Danae with her son Perseus.
Since the bas-relief is often used as the backrest of the bench below, it often remains hidden from view. A real shame, because it really is a small masterpiece.

The woman at the center of the composition is Andromeda, chained to a rock as an offering to a sea monster.
Poor Andromeda had ended up in this bad situation because of her mother, queen of Ethiopia, who had boasted about her daughter’s beauty, declaring her to be more beautiful than the Nereids. Outraged, the Nereids asked that Poseidon intervene to punish her and the god of the sea sent the sea monster Cetus to spread devastation on the coasts of Ethiopia. Consequently, the king of Ethiopia consulted the oracle of Ammon, that told him that the only way to appease the monster was to sacrifice to him his only daughter.
Luckily, Perseus, returning home after defeating Medusa, was flying over the coast with his winged sandals on his feet and saw the scene!
In Cellini's bas-relief, on the left we see the monster being fought by Perseus that has come to the rescue of the girl, who will later become his wife. A story with an unusual happy ending by the standards of Greek mythology.
This is a work that once again demonstrates the Florentine sculptor's great skill as a goldsmith. It can be appreciated in the refinement and richness of the details, in the rendering of the volumes, in the anatomy of the characters and in the dynamic composition.

Florence is full of these little treasures, details often overlooked by tourists and Florentines themselves, but which once discovered will make you fall in love!

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