Danaë (1544-6) is a work by the Venetian painter Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) and is located in the Capodimonte museum in Naples.
This painting is the first of at least five different versions of this scene painted by Titian and his workshop. Details in each painting differ, such as the presence of a dog, haggard lady or God. However, the one constant in the different paintings is the figure of Danaë and her composition, reclining nude with her legs agape.
The scene is taken from the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Danaë’s father Acrisius had her locked away in an underground dungeon after hearing a prophecy that her son would one day kill him. In efforts to avoid this outcome, he had Danaë imprisoned. However, Danaë was willingly impregnated while being held prisoner. The painting depicts Zeus’ seduction / impregnation of Danaë. Danaë is clearly identifiable lying in the centre of the composition, while depicted above her is Zeus in the form of a shower of gold coins. The child that Danaë subsequently gave birth to was Perseus, who ended up accidentally killing Acrisius with a discus.
Did you known?
This painting was seized by Nazi troops during World War Two. The painting was later discovered in an Austrian salt mine by the ‘Monuments Men’.