4 June 2014
Oil on canvas, 54.5 by 73 cm.
Provenance: Art Russe, Nouveau Drouot, Paris, 11 February 1983.
Hammer Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner.
Russian Art Vol. II, Sotheby’s New York, 17 April 2007, lot 398.
Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Danae by Philippe Maliavin is a gem of creativity by this outstanding painter, a work inspired by an archetype of Russian beauty subtly woven into a tale from ancient mythology. The Greek myth, on which the picture is based, had already been taken up by masters in various epochs of the history of art, from Titian and Rembrandt to Gustav Klimt, each of whom presented the story in his own way. In the original myth, Danae was the daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos. Hearing the prophecy that he would perish by the hand of his grandson, Acrisius ordered his daughter to be confined to a copper tower. But Zeus, the ruler of the gods, drawn by the beauty of the prisoner, penetrated the tower in the guise of golden rain and Danae gave birth to Perseus. In fury, Acrisius ordered Danae and her son to be thrown into the sea in a sealed box. But the prophecy proved inexorable. Perseus was saved from destruction, grew to manhood, and accidentally slew his grandfather.
Maliavin’s Danae is a richly sensual young woman, buxom and rosy-cheeked. The expressive colour and the lush, broad-gestured application are full of energy. Maliavin, who began his career in the icon-painting workshop at a monastery, uses red paint as it had not been used since the time of ancient Russian iconography. The artist portrays the seduction scene with remarkable boldness and psychological accuracy, giving a fresh interpretation of the ancient myth while preserving the distinctively Russian use of colour that is the hallmark of his best work.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
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