Rodin Works: The Danaid

The Danaid, bronze, Musée Dr Faure. Photo: H. de Roos Rodin's 'Danaid' is an adaption of the Greek myth of the 50 daughters of King Danaos of Argos, the Danaids. To reconcile with his brother Danaos, Aegyptos, father of 50 sons, proposed his sons would marry to Danaos's daughters. Although Danaos seemingly agreed with the wedding, he instructed the brides to murder  their bridegrooms during the wedding night, and all except one stabbed their husbands. As a penalty, the Danaids were forced to fill their jugs with water in the Hades; since these urns were perforated, their efforts were condemned to be in vain - another variation of the Sisyphus and Prometheus theme, whose penalties also were characterised by endless repetition.

Additionally, Mary Levkoff points to the ancient sacramental ceremony of pouring water at the marriage; as a further association with the water theme, she mentions that Danaos was skillful at digging wells - an important quality in Argos where drinkable water was precious.

Aida Audeh beliefs that Canto XXII of Dante´s Inferno provides us with the origin of the Danaid character: immersed in a boiling pitch of tar, the sinners momentarily rise over the surface, showing their curved backs like dolphins. I do not see a stringent connection, however, between these barrators (swindlers in public office) and the traitorous brides. Although Georges Grappe claimed that a - possible preliminary - version of 'The Danaid' named 'Andomeda' was meant to be part of 'The Gates of Hell', Photo: Prof. Howe its purported presence in this monumental composition remains without evidence. Unproven remains also Monique Laurent's thesis that Camille Claudel was Rodin's model for these sculptures , although Elsen fancies Tancock's speculation that Rodin derived his subject from a fatigued studio model that had rested herself in this position. Merging fact and fiction, Bruno Nuytten's movie 'Camille Claudel' with Isabelle Adjani as Rodin's counterpart shows an exhausted Camille kneeling on the floor leaning over against a piece of furniture.The Danaid, bronze, Musée Dr Faure. Photo: H. de Roos

Whereas the back of 'Andromeda' runs nearly parallel to the ground plane, 'The Danaid' has her body tilted to the left, the hips leaning to an edge of the rock that looks as if extra designed for this support. Because of this additional slant, the arc of the torso's dexter half looks dramatically stretched; the line from shoulder blade over rib cage down to the accentuated hip bone makes up for a highly differentiated lateral profile. Simultaneously, the right buttock is lifted, revealing the cleavage between the girl's legs to the spectator. While Rodin's sculpture is supposed to show the punished maiden exhausted and frustrated by her senseless duty, I am Beautiful, bronze. Source: Lampert the water running from the vessel clenched under her right arm,  the grace and sensuality of her curved back and outstretched bottom contain an outspoken erotic message, contrasted by the innocence of a sleeping face: an ambiguity typical of many Rodin works. In this sense, 'The Danaid' and - to a lesser extent - 'Andromeda' represent the widespread male sexual phantasy of the attractive young girl helplessly exposed to overpowering masculine greed ; other relevant examples can be found in 'The Minotaur' and 'Avarice and Lust', or in 'I am Beautiful', offering an uninhibited, intimate view of 'The Crouching Woman'. Seen from this perspective, 'The Crouching Woman', created as early as 1880, has quite a resemblance to 'The Danaid'.

The 'Danaid' was for the first time exhibited as an autonomous work in the Gallery Georges Petit in 1889 and submitted to the Salon of 1890. Here, it was purchased for the Musée du Luxembourg.  
The marble version now exhibited in the Musée Rodin (S.1155, 36 x 71 x 53 cm), carved by Rodin's praticien Jean Escoula, shows the same smooth finish as the Bust of Mme Vicuna. Instead of tense and twisted muscles, we find a polished composition in fin-de-siècle perfection; only the rock, from which the 'Danaid' seems to emerge, has retained its rough surface - a juxtaposition very popular with Rodin, Danaid, Marble, National Gallery, Helsinki who had adapted this style from Michelangelo to suggest the non-finito of his sculpture and the organic evolution of the figure from the block of stone it had been "liberated" from. The wave-like lines of the back and the undulating long hair, combined with this fluidity of execution, seem to make a rhyme to the water theme associated with the Danaid's story.

Another marble example ist found in Finland, in the Finnish National Gallery (dimensions given as 32 cm x 45 cm x 67 cm). Like in the case of 'Fallen Angel', the marble versions have been used to create bronze casts.



Advanced Search and Search Rules

Advanced Search & Search Rules

Terms of Use  Copyright Policy    Menu missing?  Back one page  Reload this page   Top of this page 

Notice: Museum logos appear only as buttons linking to Museum Websites and do not imply any
formal approval of RODIN-WEB pages by these institutions. For details see Copyright Policy.
© Copyright 1992 - Juni 2004 for data collection & design by Hans de Roos - All Rights Reserved.
Last update of this page: 08.06.2004