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squareUN'IPOTESI ICONOGRAFICA
SULLA TESTA DI MEDUSA DEL CARAVAGGIO

Taro Kimura

 

Caravaggio’s Head of Medusa (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), painted in 1597-98 for Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, is an example of wooden ceremonial shields that were often executed in the 16th century. Many scholars have carefully studied and analyzed it for the last several decades. However, the meaning of its extremely unusual image made by Caravaggio has not been revealed yet. This article focuses on the concept of “paragone” between painting and sculpture as a key to read particular aspects of Caravaggio’s work, and interprets its depiction as a device to demonstrate the representational superiority of painting over relief of Medusa’s head on metal ceremonial shields which were frequently produced during the late 16th century.