Carolus-Duran's Danae
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c. 1900
Carolus-Duran -- French portrait painter/teacher
Bordeaux; Museum of the Art schools
Oil on canvas 
100 x 127 cm
Jpg: Joconde Database

Danae is depicted here locked away from the reach of all men by her father -- well, almost -- and down from the roof comes Zeus in the shower of gold.  

In Greek myth, Danae was the royal daughter of Acrisius, an ancient king of Argos. After an oracle warned her father that Danae's son would someday kill him, Acrisius had his daughter shut up inside a sealed room, atop an impenetrable bronze tower, away from all men. However, Zeus -- the amorous and all-powerful king of gods --  desired Danae. He came to her through the roof of the sealed chamber, in the form of a shower of gold that poured down into her lap. As a result of this union, Danae had a son -- Perseus -- the hero who later took on the chilling Medusa.  

John Singer Sargent 
Sketch of Cellini's "Perseus" 
However I'm jumping head of myself. When Acrisius (Danae's father) discovered Perseus, he was too cowardly to kill the child, and so locked both his daughter and grandson inside a wooden chest, and pushed it into the sea. Out of love for Danae, Zeus watched over the mother and son, and with the aid of sea god Poseidon, who calmed the waters, he sent them to the island of Seriphus. Here they were befriend by King Polydectes who fell in love with the beautiful Danae. 

For more on this story see Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus Beheading Medusa. 


By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 10/16/2002