Head of Medusa, Cameo by Benedetto Pistrucci (Italian, 1783–1855, active England), Red jasper mounted in gold with white enamel, Italian, executed in England (London)

Head of Medusa

Cameo by Benedetto Pistrucci (Italian, 1783–1855, active England)
Mount by Carlo Giuliano (Italian, active England, ca. 1831–1895)
cameo 1840–50, mount ca. 1860
Italian, executed in England (London)
Red jasper mounted in gold with white enamel
Overall (isible cameo): 2 1/8 in. (5.3 cm), 53.2 mm;
Overall (in setting): 2 11/16 x 2 11/16 in. (6.8 x 6.8 cm)
Lapidary Work-Gems
Credit Line:
Purchase, Assunta Sommella Peluso, Ada Peluso, and Romano I. Peluso Gift, in memory of Ignazio Peluso, 2003
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 172
One of the most elegant of all Medusas, this head borrows freely from the ancient marble mask known as the Rondanini Medusa in the Glyptothek, Munich. The cameo was commissioned from Benedetto Pistrucci for the impressive sum of 200 guineas by a London dentist and collector, Samuel Cartwright, who also ordered a marble bust of himself (National Portrait Gallery, London). The wings and snakes on the cameo’s frame allude to the caduceus of Mercury, emblem of the medical profession. The existence of a silver copy of the Medusa head bearing the mark of the silversmith Carlo Giuliano (sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 2006) proves that he was the author of the strikingly handsome mount.
Signature: Signed: PISTRUCCI
Comissioned by Samuel Cartwright ; [ Alberto Di Castro , until 2003; sold to MMA ]