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Danaë and the Shower of Gold | Titian painting of 1554


Danae, Titian Painting of 1554

Danaë and the Shower of Gold
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
1553-54, oil on canvas, 129 x 180 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

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This Titian painting, Danaë and the Shower of Gold, was commissioned in 1554 by the Hapsburg monarch, King Phillip II of Spain. Titian's Danaë was a painting theme which the artist or his studio executed at least three times within his lifetime. The version featured here is now in the Prado, Spain. This particular painting of Danaë by Titian was executed about ten years after the Titian painting now in Naples done for Cardinal Farnese. A third version of this Titian painting also dated to 1554 is in Vienna.

The Prado Titian painting of Danaë depicts Ovid's mythological story of the seduction of the young woman, Danae, by the god Zeus who came down to earth from Mount Olympus in a shower of gold. This Titian painting differs from the Farnese Titian painting by the inclusion of an old woman who replaces the Cupid.

Vasari said that Michelangelo went to Titian's rooms to pay his respects where he saw the Titian painting of Danaë. Michelangelo then complimented Titian on the color and style of the painting, but upon leaving, criticized Titian's drawing skills to others. Indeed, Michelangelo remarked that it was shameful that the Venetians did not learn to draw well from the beginning and did not apply themselves.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

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