Perseus – Hommage to Benvenuto Cellini
The artist recognised this sculpture as his major work… its perfection from all possible points of view!
A.P. casts of the 73 x 36.5 x 29.5 cm editions are part of the permanent collections of the Davenport Museum of Art (Iowa) and the Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson, USA).
Dali’s tribute to The Renaissance.
Dali’s Perseus is practically a copy of Cellini’s « Perseo » ordered by Cosimo I de Medicis to be placed below La Loggia del Lanzi in Florence. The artist recognized this sculpture as his major work, emphasizing with pride the difficulty of technical challenge and as quality, its perfection from all possible points of view.
Cosimo I de Medicis wanted to convert La Plazza della Signoria of Florence in an open-air museum; for that reason he asked some artists to make several sculptures. Cellini was one of them. In 1945 Cosimo asked him to make El Perseo at monumental size in order to place it below La Loggia del Lanzi.
Undoubtedly Dalí should have recognized the similitude between his own personality and the one of Cellini, their aesthetic and technical affinities. He should also notice the creating frenetic activity of the Italian as writer, poet, art theorist of his time, sculptor, gold and silver worker, etc. Therefore it isn’t strange that Dalí felt a special attraction to Benvenuto’s works, paying him universal homage with this sculpture.
Cellini conceded the same formal importance to Perseus. This whole group is an allegory to the harmony’s triumph, balance and human being’s self-knowledge. He gave to his sculpture group almost all attributes: the body from the decapitated jellyfish, the flying sandals, the pouch and the helmet given by the Nymphs and the sickle given by Hermes. On the base Cellini shaped with higher technical exquisiteness several figures allegoric to the narration.
On the contrary Dalí conceded more importance to Perseus, signifying the values which the mythology gives to the son of Zeus as hero: nobility, courage, justice, wisdom and mercy.
Dali shaped in his Perseus the attributes considered by him as the most important ones. He took formal distance from the Cellini model, making bigger the helmet, which made the Perseus’ sphinx invisible; he also put the sickle of Hermes on his right side, but the Dalinian jellyfish lays really inert at the foot of Perseus. However Dalí emphasized the myth, making the face almost disappear in a maze of snakes.