You are here:

Doorknocker with Gorgon Head

Doorknocker with Gorgon Head

mid 1500s

Bronze

Overall: 25.4 x 19.7 x 6.9 cm (10 x 7 3/4 x 2 11/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1972.1

Description

Venice was a center for numerous bronze founders who made elaborate doorknockers for palace doors throughout the city. Although utilitarian, these objects were meant to impress as works of art in their own right. The presence of snakes that coil from this fearsome head suggest that this is Medusa, one of the three demon sisters in Greek mythology known as the Gorgons. According to some legends, Medusa was an attractive woman who, after having an affair with the god Poseidon in Athena's temple, was transformed by the goddess into a serpent-haired beast. Her visage was so terrifying that anyone who looked at it was turned to stone. The hero Perseus was ordered to decapitate Medusa, and Athena subsequently placed the monstrous head in the center of her shield. The use of the Gorgon's head as an ancient motif and protective symbol to avert evil developed from this fabled act. Such literary and iconographic traditions were known to Renaissance artists, and the presence of a Gorgon head on a doorknocker almost certainly evokes its guarding function for a Venetian home.

See also
Collection: 
Sculpture
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Bronze

Contact us

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.