Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Classical Venus: Danaë by Paul Ludwig Kowalczewski

Danaë (1900)

This sensuous bronze is by Paul Ludwig Kowalczewski who was born in Mielżyn in Poland in 1865.  From 1895 he studied in Berlin and spent the rest of his life there. He specialised in bronze figures, often with a classical theme. He died in 1910.

In Greek myth, Danaë was the daughter and only child of King Acrisius of Argos, who longed for a son and heir. He went to the oracle at Delphi who not only told him that he would never have a son but that Danaë's son would kill him.  To prevent any chance of pregnancy he kept her locked in an underground chamber (or a tower, depending on the version of the story).  Zeus took a fancy to her and came to her in the form of a golden rain which could enter the small skylight in her chamber.  He entered Danaë as well and she gave birth to a son, Perseus,  As a result. King Acrisius, unwilling to anger the gods by killing his grandson, set his daughter and Perseus adrift at sea in a box.  This story forms the basis of the opening of the last Ray Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans (1981).  After many adventures in exile, including killing the Gorgon and rescuing Andromeda, Perseus headed home to Argo, stopping off to take part in athletic games at Larissa. During a discus (or javelin) competition his throw went off course and killed  King Acrisius, a spectator at the games, thus fulfilling the oracle's prophecy.

Like the myth of Leda and the Swan, the legend of Danaë presented artists with an excellent excuse to depict ecstatic looking women; something that Kowalczewski certainly achieved here

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