Ovid does not tell the story of Danae in the Metamorphoses but alludes to it several times with reference to her son. Nevertheless, she has proved a popular subject for artists. Danae was the only child of Acrisius, king of Argos, who had been told by an oracle that she would have a son who would kill him. To avoid this, Acrisius locked Danae up in a room at the top of a tall tower. That randy old god Zeus/Jupiter saw her and fell for her. He came to visit her as a shower of gold, and in time she bore a son to him. Rather than kill his relatives, which would provoke the Furies, Acrisius stuffed Danae and her son, Perseus, into a chest which he threw into the sea, thus making Poseidon/Neptune responsible for their fate. Of course they survived and Perseus grew up to become a hero.
Our first picture was painted by Jan Gossaert (aka Mabuse) in 1523. It is now in Munich's Alte Pinakotek.
The above picture was painted around 1531 by Correggio. It is now in Rome's Villa Borghese.
Titian painted various versions of Danae and the shower of gold in the 1550s. The ones shown above are in (from top to bottom):
Naples's Museo di Capodimonte (but not on their website),
Madrid's Prado (type Danae in the search box -- don't miss the informative audio file),
St. Petersburg's State Hermitage, and
Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum.
(Feel free to play spot the differences with them.)
At some point in the second half of the 16th century Tintoretto painted the above picture, which is now in Lyon's Musée des Beaux-Arts, but not on their website. (all images come from wikicommons and are in the public domain)
upcoming book chat: 'letters from a stoic' by seneca, april 1 & 15 - Our upcoming chats on April 1 & 15 are letters by Seneca: Corrected to adjust dates. Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Online The Penguin book contains...
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