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Medusa's Head (Watts)

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89,48256,52 (Inc. Tax)

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Historic description:

Watts modelled and carved this head while he was living in Italy in 1846. It was carved in alabaster, a less-common material for sculpture in the nineteenth century than white marble or bronze. There are small divots in the smooth surface of the face, which are most likely traces of Watts’s carving. He would have drilled small holes to indicate how deep in the block to carve, but as an amateur he drilled too deep in some places and the marks were not polished away.

The subject is the dead Medusa, whose hair was turned to snakes by the goddess Athena and who could turn people to stone by looking at them. Watts was probably inspired by paintings and sculptures of Medusa in Florence. Once of the most famous paintings in Florence at the time was believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci. It showed the head of Medusa lying on the ground, like Watts’s sculpture.

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