The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Danaë with Cupid
  • After Titian (1485 - 1576)
  • Danaë with Cupid
  • Italy
  • c. 1750 - 1800
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 32 x 44 cm
    Frame size: 52 x 63 x 8.5 cm
  • P546
  • Reserve Gallery
Further Reading
  • According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses (IV, 697-8), Danaë was imprisoned in a tower by her father, Acrisius, King of Argos, following a warning that he would be killed by any son she bore. However, Jupiter, king of the gods, came to Danaë in the form of a shower of golden rain and impregnated her. She later gave birth to Perseus (see Titian P11), who later accidentally killed his grandfather with a discus, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

    This is a late 18th-century copy of a painting by Titian, which hung in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome in the first half of the 18th century, before being taken to Naples around 1759 (it is now in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples). The original picture, which dates from the 1540s, is the earliest example of a series of paintings on the same theme produced by Titian in the mid-16th century (other examples are now in the Prado Museum (Madrid), the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna). Each version shows Danaë in a similar pose, although the figure to her right – in this case, Cupid – is sometimes presented as a nursemaid.

    Titian’s treatment of the subject – an example of what is sometimes referred to as his ‘erotic mythologies’ – was extremely significant and influential in the history of art. It is believed that the present picture was painted in Naples and dates from the late 18th century. The 4th Marquess of Hertford bought the painting from Christie’s in 1856, where it was curiously described as by ‘Rossi’. At least ten other copies of the original painting are known.