Sunday, April 22, 2018

01 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, Giovanni Antonio Guardi, with footnotes # 17

Giovanni Antonio Guardi, VIENNA 1699 - 1760 VENICE
DANAË
Oil on canvas
38 3/8  by 23 3/8  in.; 97.5 by 59.4 cm.
Private collection

Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, King Acrisius asked the oracle of Delphi if this would change. The oracle announced to him that he would never have a son, but his daughter would, and that he would be killed by his daughter's son. At the time, Danae was childless and, meaning to keep her so, she was imprisoned in a tall brass tower with a single richly adorned chamber, but with no doors or windows, just a sky-light as the source of light and air). However, Zeus, the king of the gods, desired her, and came to her in the form of golden rain which streamed in through the roof of the subterranean chamber and down into her womb. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.

Unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods or the Furies by killing his offspring and grandchild, King Acrisius cast Danaë and Perseus into the sea in a wooden chest. The sea was calmed by Poseidon and, at the request of Zeus, the pair survived. They were washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by Dictys – the brother of King Polydectes – who raised Perseus to manhood. The King was charmed by Danaë, but she had no interest in him. Consequently, he agreed not to marry her only if her son would bring him the head of the Gorgon Medusa. Using Athena's shield, Hermes's winged sandals and Hades' helmet of invisibility, Perseus was able to evade Medusa's gaze and decapitate her.


Later, after Perseus brought back Medusa's head and rescued Andromeda, the oracle's prophecy came true. He started for Argos, but learning of the prophecy, instead went to Larissa, where athletic games were being held. By chance, an aging Acrisius was there and Perseus accidentally struck him on the head with his javelin (or discus), fulfilling the prophecy. More on Danaë

Giovanni Antonio Guardi (1699 – 23 January 1760), also known as Gianantonio Guardi, was an Italian painter and nobleman. Guardi was one of the founders of the Venetian Academy in 1756. Born in Vienna into a family of nobility from Trentino. His father Domenico (born in 1678) a Baroque painter, and his brothers Niccolò and Gian Antonio (also painters), later inherited the family workshop after their father's death in 1716. They probably all contributed as a team to some of the larger commissions later attributed to his brother Francesco Guardi. His sister Maria Cecilia married the pre-eminent Veneto-European painter of his epoch, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

He may have received his artistic training in Vienna, where he is first recorded in 1719, but had established a workshop in Venice by 1730. He produced copies after the work of other artists, as well as a series of originals with Turkish-inspired interiors as easel pictures for private decorations. Antonio Guardi trained his younger brothers Nicolò and Francesco in his workshop, the latter working closely with him as a figure painter before establishing himself as a vedutista in the late 1750s.

He died in Venice in 1760. More on Giovanni Antonio Guardi






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