Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus and Andromeda by Titian.

Titian (Italian, 1488–1576), Perseus and Andromeda, about 1554–1556. Oil on canvas, 230 x 243 cm (90 9/16 x 95 11/16 in.)
The Wallace Collection, London (P11)


This large horizontal, rectangular oil painting is about 6 feet wide by 6.5 feet tall. It has three central figures; a woman to our left, a man to our right, and a sea monster in the center middle ground of this seascape. The light-skinned standing woman, Andromeda, is chained to the rocks next to a stormy, dark sea. Her body faces us. Her right hand is chained above her, and her ankle and other arm are also shackled. She is nude except for a transparent cloth that covers her upper thighs, and curves gracefully to our left and upward over her shoulder to the hand chained above her head. She has dark brown hair and wears red, drop earrings. Her head is turned back over her shoulder toward the man to our right. This medium-skinned figure is Perseus, who swoops down headfirst from the cliff above Andromeda, descending towards the monster in the sea below him. He wears a helmet and is dressed in a gold and red tunic and shawl that blows in the wind. He holds a shield in his left arm and a curved sword in his right, appearing about to attack the monster. The dragon-shaped brown and black monster in the center between the two figures has pointed spines down its back, and a curved serpent-like tail. Its mouth full of bared fangs is open,  as if ready to attack Perseus. There are buildings along the distant shore to our right. The clouds fade from dark to light towards our right, and the clouds part behind Perseus, allowing the blue sky to show through.

Audio Description


Sacrificed to a sea monster for offending the gods, the Ethiopian princess Andromeda struggles against her chains. The young hero Perseus offers help to her parents, who appear on the distant shore. Securing Andromeda’s hand in marriage, he drops out of the sky and attacks the monster. Small pieces of coral—the solidified blood of Medusa, another victim of Perseus—foreshadow its death, Andromeda’s rescue, and the couple’s happy future together.

Titian struggled with the composition of this picture more than any of the others. Infrared images reveal that he moved Andromeda from right to left and shifted the pose of Perseus several times.


Reconsidering Titian Today

If I may:

I’d like to ask about what got us here, about how I, a daughter of Ethiopia, comes to be rescued by a semblance of a man of Greece…

00:00 / 2:15

Johnette Marie EllisJohnette Marie Ellis is a habitual builder of community, a student of process, a student of spirit. As founder of Mother Mercy, an arts incubator grounded in Black thought & creation, JME supports other thinkers, makers, and creators and constantly reimagines her own artistry. Poetry, prose and photography have been loyal mediums, but JME also engages film-making and spiritual herbalism, exploring the unique power of these forms for our current future.

The lead sponsors of Titian: Women, Myth & Power are Amy and David Abrams and The Richard C. von Hess Foundation


The presenting corporate sponsor is:

Bank of America logo


This exhibition is supported by the Robert Lehman Foundation, Fredericka and Howard Stevenson, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional support is provided by an endowment grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Media Sponsor: The Boston Globe.