Gustav Klimt - Danae

by Alexandra Tuschka


A stream of golden coins and a red-haired beauty are the main components of Klimt's painting. In a crouched and almost fetal pose, the woman is arranged in the center of the picture. She has her eyes closed, lips open, and neck and shoulder areas covered by her hair. The golden rain streams in between her naked thighs. In the right corner of the picture we find Klimt's typical golden ornaments inspired by Byzantine mosaics and reminiscent of blastocysts.

Danae was the daughter of King Acrisius of Argos. An oracle told him that his grandson would one day take his throne and steal his life. To prevent pregnancy, the king imprisoned Danae. Zeus, who caught sight of her and sought her, found no way to her except in the form of golden rain. Danae gave birth to Perseus from this meeting, who would later kill the king. The oracle came true.


Danae was depicted by Klimt in a very unconventional way. She seems to be engrossed in an erotic dream and to have been thrown into sexual ectasis by the golden rain. The right hand curls up on her breast. Danae is depicted here completely self-fixated; her hunched posture reinforces the intimacy of the scene.


Gustav Klimt - Danae

Oil on canvas, 1907 - 1908, 77 x 83 cm, Dichand Collection, Vienna