VINCENZO GEMITO (Naples 1852 - 1929) SMALL HEAD OF MEDUSA
This bronze is a fine example of Gemito's work in the last part of his life, when he resumed sculpting after recovering from the mental collapse which cut off his activity for almost two decades. The gold patina, the great attention to the quality of the cast and the masterly chisel-work, especially in the hair, suggest the refinement of a goldsmith; and, in fact, Gemito's rebirth as a sculptor in the beginning of the 20th century was marked by his fascinations with the goldsmith's together with the themes of the classical art. However, the attention to detail and refinement of craftsmanship do not affect the skill of the great sculptor; if we look indeed at the volumes of this small head we can see a creation full of power and dynamic flow.
We have directly compared our bronze with the two waxes of the same subject which are at the 'Museo dell'Ottocento', in Milan. One of them is the original wax modeled by Gemito (inv. GAM 6538), the other one has been cast from the final plaster cast (inv. GAM 6535). Our exemplar shows elements from both versions and at the same time is different from both. The bronze has almost the same hair and wings as the original wax (but they are extensively chiseled) conversely the neck is very similar to the one of the cast wax, but with just one snake instead of two.
Our bronze compares well, for the masterly chisel-work, with some beautiful sculptures in the neo-hellenistic taste exhibited in Naples, at Villa Pignatelli, in 2009. See, for example, the 'Medaglione raffigurante Alessandro Magno' and, especially, the 'Coppa con Medusa'. See D. M. Pagano, 'Gemito', exhibition catalogue, Naples, 2009; for the 'Coppa' pages 190/191, cat. no. 68; for the 'Medaglione' pages 216/217, cat. no 86.