Henry-Louis Picou (French, 1824-1895)
Andromeda Chained to a Rock, 1874
Oil on canvas, 47 3/8 x 33 3/8 in.
Like his contemporary Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), Picou was a student of Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) and a leading practitioner of the néo-grec style in the early 1850s. Lighthearted themes of love were his forte, and during the Second Empire (1852-1870) his compositions were widely known in the United States and England in the form of lithographs. Andromeda Chained to a Rock depicts the warrior Perseus, son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, rescuing Andromeda from a fierce sea monster. Perseus brandishes the severed head of Medusa, which had the power to turn all who gazed upon it to stone. Picou organized his composition along a forceful diagonal axis, countering the downward thrust of Perseus’s muscular arm and sword with the tormented Andromeda’s voluptuous torso and upswept arms.