A Terrible Beauty: Rubens’ Head of Medusa in Vienna encounters the version now in Brno

Rubens produced a famous Head of Medusa already much celebrated by his contemporaries: in 1629/30, Constantijn Huygens saw a version in the collection of his friend Nicolas Sohier in Amsterdam, and he begins his report by describing his inability to forget the painting – and noting how glad he is that it hangs in his friend’s house and not his own. There were two versions of this terribly beautiful composition: at the time, the Duke of Buckingham owned the picture now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

For the first time ever, Point of View #23 reunites and juxtaposes the two versions: the Moravian Gallery in Brno has agreed to loan their Medusa, executed in oil on panel, to the Kunsthistorisches Museum so that both paintings can be examined and studied together, in collaboration with the University of Antwerp, as part of a project supported by the Flemish government.

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