This is a very tight composition with the eye directed in a circular motion. Beginning with Perseus and his sword pointing at Andromeda the eye moves from Andromeda down to the dragon and continues to Perseus. The placement of the foot in the lower left corner and the extension of his right leg strengthen reinforces the dominance of this.
Myth Story: The painting depicts Perseus battling the sea serpent sent by Poseidon to harass the people ruled by King Cephus and whose daughter, Andromeda, was offered as a sacrifice to appease the gods.1
- American Artist, No. 6, Iss. 348, June 1971, Don Jardine, Richard Lack’s Atelier System of Training Painters, pp. 48-53, repr. p. 50 (in full and detail)
- Minneapolis Review of the Arts, Minneapolis, MN, c. January, 1974, Frederick Appell, Jr., “Matisse Couldn’t Draw” A Visit with a Painter of the Nineteenth Century, repr. included with article
- Classical Realism Quarterly, Vol. IV, Iss. 4, Minneapolis, MN, February 1990, Atelier Lack, Richard Lack, The Bistre Method, pp. 3-5, repr. p. 4
- Classical Realism Journal, Vol. VI, Iss. 2, Winter/Spring 2001, The American Society of Classical Realism, Minneapolis, MN, ISSN 1072-6764, Stephen Gjertson, An Interview with Richard Lack, pp. 24-31, repr. p. 30
- Richard Lack: An American Master, 2002, Stephen Gjertson, The American Society of Classical Realism, Minneapolis, MN, 2002, ISBN 0-9636180-3-2, repr. p. 130
- On The Training of Painters: With Notes on the Atelier Program, Vol. VIII, Minneapolis, MN, 2009, ISSN 1072-6764, Richard Lack, The Atelier, Bistre Technique, repr. p. 78
1 Thomas Bulfinch, Bulfinch’s Mythology, Barnes & Noble, 2006: A compilation of his three books: The Age of Fable, first published in 1855; The Age of Chivalry, first published in 1858; and The Legends of Charlemagne, first published in 1863; All three were published by Review of Reviews company, New York, NY in 1913. Perseus appears in The Age of Fable, pp. 114–119. These two books are still considered the definitive resource for fables and mythology. Lack read them. He references Bulfinch’s book The Age of Fable as a notation on a series of mythological thumbnail concepts (UNDOC WDCT CONCPT: 042-a, List of Illustrations, Age of Fable).
The Myth Story: Perseus saves Andromeda:
After cutting off Medusa’s head, Perseus started his journey back home. On the way, he encounters a beautiful woman named Andromeda chained to some rocks. He learned from her that her mother, Cassiopeia, had offended Poseidon by stating that her won beauty was greater than the Nereids who attended Poseidon. To punish her, Poseidon had sent a flood and a sea serpent to harass the people of her country. An oracle had told Andromeda’s father, King Cephus, to sacrifice his Andromeda to the serpent to appease Poseidon. Andromeda begged Perseus to save her. Perseus agreed to help her, but first he wanted King Cephus to give him Andromeda’s hand in marriage. Cephus agreed.
When the sea serpent came for Andromeda, Perseus jumped on top of it and battled it to the death. Perseus was victorious and he then freed Andromeda. He went to her father to claim her in marriage, but Cephus had failed to mention that Andromeda had already been promised to Phineus. Phineus, with a small army, came to interrupt Perseus and Andromeda’s wedding but Perseus pulled Medusa’s head out of the bag and turned Phineus and his army all to stone.
Upon returning home, Perseus found his mother hiding from the King in a religious site. King Polydectes had begun pursuing her, which forced her to retreat to the temple for refuge. Perseus crashed a banquet of the king. When Perseus told his tale and how he had cut off Medusa’s head, the king doubted his story. To prove the deed was actually done, Perseus pulled the head out of the bag. The king and all his guests were turned to stone.
Perseus, Andromeda, and Danae (his mother) returned to their home at Argos. Afraid of the prophecies that his grandson would kill him Acrisuis fled to Larissa. Perseus followed him, not for revenge but to make peace with him. While there, Perseus entered a disc-throwing contest. He accidentally threw the disk into the crowd and killed one of the spectators. He discovered the spectator was his grandfather Acrisius.
So saddened by this accident, Perseus could not return to Argos to claim his throne. Instead, he took the throne of the city of Tiryns and there he established the city of Mycenae. He had six children with Andromeda to whom he was faithful the rest of his life.