Medea

about 1868–80
William Wetmore Story (American, 1819–1895)


Object Place: Rome, Italy

Dimensions

Overall: 195.6 x 68.6 x 67.3 cm, 1134 kg (77 x 27 x 26 1/2 in., 2500 lb.) Mount (Rolling steel base with 3/4" thick painted wooden skirts): 31.8 x 92.4 x 108 cm (12 1/2 x 36 3/8 x 42 1/2 in.) Other (Hard poly-single wheels): 12.7 x 5.1 cm (5 x 2 in.)

Accession Number

1984.202

Medium or Technique

Marble

On View

Penny and Jeff Vinik Gallery (Gallery 233)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Sculpture

In Greek mythology, Medea punished her unfaithful husband by murdering their two children. Rather than portraying the horrific deed, the sculptor selected an earlier moment of high psychological drama. Wounded by infidelity, blinded by jealousy and anger, Medea contemplates the pending crime. She holds a dagger in one hand, idly fondling the beads of her necklace. Story’s conceptualization likely was inspired by the moving performance by Italian actress Adelaide Ristori, which Story witnessed in the mid-1850s. “Her ‘Medea’ is as affecting as it is terrible,” he recalled.

Provenance

Story Family, Rome; Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, Boston; Isidore and Molly Bromfield, Milton, Mass.; Post Road Gallery, Larchmont, N.Y.; Carlos Conde III, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by a friend of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture and the Curator's Fund