The deeds of the Greek hero Perseus included slaying the snake-haired Gorgon, Medusa, and rescuing the beautiful maiden Andromeda from a sea-monster. Gilbert's statue shows Perseus preparing himself for one such encounter. The artist wrote that 'at that time my whole thoughts were of my artistic equipment for the future [so] I conceived the idea that Perseus, before becoming a hero, was a mere mortal and that he had to look to his equipment'. The work was essentially an allegory of Gilbert’s sculptural ambition. With the nearby Icarus and Comedy and Tragedy it formed a commentary on Gilbert’s evolving art.