Engraving after an oil painting by Titian depicting a pivotal moment in the tale of Danae, one of many Greek myths in which Zeus seduces a beautiful mortal female and trouble ensues. The King of Argos (Danae’s father) receives a prophecy that he will be killed by his own grandson and therefore locks Danae in her bedroom to keep her from being impregnated. The god Zeus seeks her out and comes to her as a shower of golden rain, interpreted here by Titian as gold coins. Danae’s besotted state is indicated by the rapt expression on her face and the presence of Cupid. Titian made a few different paintings of this subject; this print is based on the 1545-46 version now in the collection of the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy. A Latin inscription beneath the print states that Strange made a drawing of the work in Naples in 1762, when it belonged to the King of Naples, and then engraved it in London in 1768. Evidently, he drew the painting as he saw it, and therefore it was reversed when printed — in Titian’s painting Danae is on the right (see References below).
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) is considered one of the greatest painters in the history of European art. He was associated with the Venetian school during the 16th century and produced religious subjects, portraits, allegories and scenes from classical mythology and history. Titian’s sensuous, painterly style influenced his contemporaries and later generations of artists.
Robert Strange was a Scottish engraver, writer and collector, active in England. He was trained as a portrait engraver in Edinburgh, and developed his line engraving skills in France in 1748 and 1749 under Jean-Baptiste Descamps and the celebrated engraver Jacques-Philippe Lebas. He arrived in London in 1750, where his skills were highly regarded. After turning down a commission from the painter Allen Ramsay to make engravings after Ramsay’s portrait of the Prince of Wales in 1759, he lost royal patronage. He left for Rome in 1760 and spent the next four years in Italy making a series of acclaimed engravings after Old Master paintings that garnered him membership in the Académie Royale of Paris, and the academies of Rome, Florence, Bologna and Parma. From 1764 on, he divided his time between London and Rome. He received further honors in London: membership of the Incorporated Society of Artists in London and, in 1787, knighthood. His engravings continued to be admired after his death and a catalogue of his works was published in 1848 as part of Charles Blanc’s Le Graveur en Taille Douce.
Titled in English and Latin lower margin: Danae. From a painting of Titian in the Collection of the King of Naples. Danae. E Tabula Titiani in Pinacotheca regia Neapolitana conservata.
Inscribed: R. Strange Neapoli delin’t A’o. 1762 Atque A’o. 1768 Are incidit Londini.
Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with some light remaining toning, wear, soft creases, including unobtrusive diagonal crease.
“Sir Robert Strange.” NNDB. 2010. http://www.nndb.com/people/173/000097879/ (15 June 2010).
“Strange, Sir Robert.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com.http://www.artnet.com/library/08/0817/T081726.asp (14 June 2010).
“Titian.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/08/0852/T085242.asp (20 May 2003).
“Tizian011.jpg.” Wikipedia Commons. 20 May 2010. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tizian_011.jpg (15 June 2010). Original painting shown here.