The J. Paul Getty Museum

Danaë and the Shower of Gold

Object Details

Title:

Danaë and the Shower of Gold

Artist/Maker:

Orazio Gentileschi (Italian, 1563 - 1639)

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy (Place Created)

Date:

1621–1623

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Object Number:

2016.6

Dimensions:

161.5 × 227.1 cm (63 9/16 × 89 7/16 in.)

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Object Description

This painting is part of a series of works executed by Gentileschi in 1622 for Giovanni Antonio Sauli’s Genoese Palazzo which includes the Getty’s Lot and His Daughters and a painting now in a private collection, The Penitent Magdalene.

The subject is based on a passage in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which King Acrisius of Argos imprisoned his beautiful daughter in order to avoid the Oracle’s prophesy that she would give birth to a son who would kill him. In the story, Jupiter takes the form of a shower of gold and impregnates Danaë, who then gives birth to Perseus. This subject was often exploited by artists as an opportunity to depict an erotic female nude. Here, Cupid pulls back the luxuriant dark green curtain to allow the god to enter the bedchamber, and the viewer too is invited to witness the moment of seduction. A transparent veil is draped across Danaë, though rather than covering her modesty, the fabric creates a tantalizing and sensual focal point on her body. The picture is a meticulous study of light, surface effects and color; the artist skillfully renders the sheen of the fabrics, ranging from the gold bedcover to the cool white linen sheet and deep crimson mattress.

Provenance
Provenance
about 1622 - 1661

Giovanni Antonio Sauli, 1596 - 1661 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Francesco Maria Sauli, 1661.
Source: Soprani, Rafaello. Le vite de'pittori, scultori et architetti genovesi (Genoa: Giuseppe Bottaro e Gio. Battista Tiboldi Compagni, 1674), p. 317.

1661 - 1699

Francesco Maria Sauli, 1622 - 1699 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Domenico Maria Ignazio Sauli, 1699.

before 1760

Domenico Maria Ignazio Sauli, 1675 - 1760 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to Domenico Sauli, 1760.

before 1769

Domenico Sauli, 1739 - 1769 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Paolino Sauli II, 1769.
Source: Ratti, Carlo Giuseppe. Instruzione di quanto [...] (Genoa: Arnaldo Forni Editore, 1780), p. 112.

before 1843

Paolino Sauli II, 1765 - 1843 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Costantino Sauli, 1843.

before 1853

Costantino Sauli, 1793 - 1853 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his daughter, Luisa Sauli Pallavicino (or possibly to his oldest daughter, Maria Sauli), 1853.
Source: Bologna, Marco, ed. L'archivo della famiglia Sauli di Genova (Genoa: Società ligure di storia patria, 2000), pp. 32-35.

by 1853

Luisa Sauli Pallavicino, 1818 - 1898 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to her daughter with Francesco Camillo Pallavicino (1809 - 1878), Maria Teresa Pallavicino, 1898.
Source: Bologna, Marco, ed. L'archivo della famiglia Sauli di Genova (Genoa: Società ligure di storia patria, 2000), pp. 32-35.

by 1898

Maria Teresa Pallavicino, 1840 - 1907 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to her son with Lazzaro Negrotto Cambiaso (1823 - 1902), Pier Francesco (Pierino) Negrotto Cambiaso.
Source: Bologna, Marco, ed. L'archivo della famiglia Sauli di Genova (Genoa: Società ligure di storia patria, 2000), pp. 32-35.

by 1906 - 1925

Pier Francesco (Pierino) Negrotto Cambiaso, 1867 - 1925 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his wife, Matilde Giustiniani Durazzo Pallavicini, 1925.
Source: Suida, Wilhelm. Genua (Leipzig: Seemann, 1906), pp. 155-56.

by 1925

Matilde Giustiniani Durazzo Pallavicini, 1878 - 1970 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to her niece and adopted daughter, Carlotta Fasciotti Giustiniani Cattaneo-Adorno.

before 1975

Carlotta Fasciotti Giustiniani Cattaneo-Adorno, 1923 - 1989 (Arenzano, Italy), sold to Thomas P. Grange, 1975.
Source: Matthiesen, Patrick. "'Amber Varnish' and Orazio Gentileschi's 'Lot and His Daughters'." Burlington Magazine 143, no. 1176 (March 2001), p. 162.

1975 - 1979

Thomas P. Grange (London, England), sold to Richard L. Feigen, 1979.

1979 - 1988

Richard L. Feigen, American, born 1930 (New York, New York), sold to Richard L. Feigen Family Trust, 1988.

1988 - 2016

Richard L. Feigen Family Trust (New York, New York), sold, Master Paintings Evening Sale, Sotheby's, New York, January 28, 2016, lot 41, to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi (February 14 to May 12, 2002)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), February 14 to May 12, 2002
Orazio Gentileschi in Genoa: Paintings for the Palazzo Sauli (October 1, 2002 to January 12, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 1, 2002 to January 12, 2003
Italian Paintings from the Richard L. Feigen Collection (May 28 to September 12, 2010)
  • Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), May 28 to September 12, 2010
Bibliography
Bibliography

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Ratti, Carlo Giuseppe. Vite de' pittori, scultori, ed architetti genovese di Rafaello Soprani. 2 vols. (Genoa: Caramara, 1768; repr. Bologna: Arnaldo Forni Editore, 1969-70), vol. 1, p. 452.

Ratti, Carlo Giuseppe. Instruzione di quanto può vedersi di più bello in Genova in pittura, scultura, ed architettura. 2nd ed. (Genoa: Arnaldo Forni Editore, 1780), p. 112.

Da Morrona, Alessandro. Pisa illustrata nelle arti del disegno. 2nd ed. 3 vols. (Livorno: Giovanni Marenigh, 1812), vol. 2, p. 258.

Suida, Wilhelm. Genua (Leipzig: Seemann, 1906), pp. 155-56.

Voss, Hermann. Die Malerie des Barock in Rom (Berlin: Propyläen-Verlag, 1924), p. 460.

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Moir, Alfred. The Italian Followers of Caravaggio. 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967), vol. 1, p. 197n4.

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Poleggi, Ennio, and Fiorella Poleggi, eds. Descrizione della città di Genova da un anonimo del 1818 (Genoa: Sagep Editrice, 1969), p. 79.

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Cassill, Jean Kubota, et al. The Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings. Part Three: European Paintings of the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1982), pp. 346-47, fig. 154a.

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