Photo: Alte Pinakothek, Munich (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Jan Gossart, 1527
Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich

Rarely had a painter achieved such a perfect fusion of the Netherlandish and Italian art worlds. Jan Gossart designed this mythological scene using his knowledge of antiquity, which he had acquired during his stay in Rome in 1508-09. The scene, painted in a typically Southern Netherlandish style and technique, depicts the imprisoned Greek princess Danae, who is visited in her cell by the infatuated god Zeus in the guise of a golden shower. On the one hand, Danae seems to epitomize innocence; on the other hand, the figure, with her bare breast and slightly parted thighs, is highly erotic. Gossart often played with this ambiguous tension in his work. Besides the architecture, inspired by Roman ruins, Gossart also referred to antiquity by signing his work “IOANNES MALBODIVS PINGEBAT 1527” (“John of Maubeuge was painting, 1527”) engraved in stone. The great Greek painter Apelles was also said to have signed his works in the past imperfect tense.

Erik Eising, Assistant Curator, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin

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