Galleria Borghese logo
Search results for
No results :(

Hints for your search:

  • Search engine results update instantly as soon as you change your search key.
  • If you have entered more than one word, try to simplify the search by writing only one, later you can add other words to filter the results.
  • Omit words with less than 3 characters, as well as common words like "the", "of", "from", as they will not be included in the search.
  • You don't need to enter accents or capitalization.
  • The search for words, even if partially written, will also include the different variants existing in the database.
  • If your search yields no results, try typing just the first few characters of a word to see if it exists in the database.


Allegri Antonio called Correggio

(Correggio c. 1489 - 1534)

Together with Leda, Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle, and Jupiter and Io, this painting forms part of a well-known series of Jupiter’s loves, painted by Correggio for Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, who in turn gave them to Charles V. The gift was perhaps made in Bologna in 1530, or more likely in November 1532, when the Emperor stayed in Mantua. The subject of the work is Danaë, daughter of King Acrisius, locked up in a tower to prevent her giving birth to children. The scene depicts the moment in which she couples with Jupiter, who according to Ovid took the form of a golden rain. Perseus was born of that union; as the oracle predicted, he killed the Argive king.

The composition is one of the rare works by Correggio set in an indoor, domestic space. The scene is enriched by the presence of Hymen, protector of marriage, and by two cupids who test the purity of the gold on a touchstone, a gesture which alludes to Jupiter’s genuine love for the princess, which is deemed here to be pure and priceless

Object details

oil on canvas
cm 158189

18th-century frame decorated with fruit festoons, 188.5 x 220.5 x 9 cm


Mantua, Federico II Gonzaga, 1530-31; Madrid, collection of Charles V, 1530/32 (Gould 1976); (?) Madrid, collection of Antonio Pérez, 1585 (Delaforce 1982); Milan, Leone Leoni, 1584 (Lomazzo 1584); Prague, collection of Rudolf II, 1601 (see, most recently, Rudolf 2002); Prague, imperial collections, 1621 (Zimmermann 1905); Stockholm, 1652; Rome, collection of Christina of Sweden, 1673 (Silos 1673); Rome, collection of Decio Azzolini, 1689; Rome, collection of Livio Odescalchi, 1696; Rome, collection of Baldassarre Erba Odescalchi, until 1721; France, purchased by Pierre Crozat, 1721; collection of Philippe of Orleans, from 1727 to 1780 (Gould 1976; Staccioli 1991); London, Duke of Bridgewater, 1816; London, Henry Hope, 1823; Paris, held by antiques dealer Bonnemaison, 1823-27; Paris, then Rome, purchased by Camillo Borghese, 1827; Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833 (Inv. Fid. p. 13, no. 42). Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

  • 1997 Torino, Palazzina di Stupinigi;
  • 1998-99 Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado;
  • 2000 Napoli, Museo di Capodimonte;
  • 2003 Parma-Vienna, Galleria Nazionale, Kunsthistorisches Museum;
  • 2003-04 Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli;
  • 2008 Roma, Galleria Borghese;
  • 2008 San Pietroburgo, Ermitage Museum;
  • 2008-09 Parma, Galleria Nazionale;
  • 2015 Milano, Palazzo Reale;
  • 2016 Roma, Scuderie del Quirinale;
  • 2018-19 Los Angeles, Getty Center;
  • 2019-20 Mantova, Palazzo Te.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1827 Pietro Camuccini
  • 1915-19 Tito Venturini Papari
  • 1929 Lucarini
  • 1933-34 Tito Venturini Papari
  • 1978 Ludovico Mucchi
  • 1979 Gianluigi Colalucci
  • 1987 Laboratorio ENEA
  • 1997


According to Giorgio Vasari (1550; 1568) – who perhaps received the information from Giulio Romano, who was based on Mantua – this canvas was commissioned to Antonio Allegri by Duke Federico II Gonzaga, who in turn donated it to Emperor Charles V. Federico was indeed greatly obliged to Charles for having elevated him to the rank of duke in 1530. In the Lives, Vasari indeed wrote of ‘two [paintings] that he did in Mantua for Duke Federico II, to be sent to the emperor’, specifically, one with ‘the nude figure of Leda and the other [...] a Venus [sic]’. That the latter no doubt refers to this Danaë is confirmed by, among other things, the unmistakable detail of the two cupids noted by Vasari, ‘who were making trial of their arrows [...] on a stone’ – which is in fact visible here in the lower right hand corner.

Executed in 1530-31, the work formed part of a series of four paintings depicting Jupiter’s loves (Jupiter and Io, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. GG274; Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv. no. GG276; and Leda and the Swan, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, inv. no 218). The series represents a refined and sophisticated homage which alludes – through the transformed figure of the father of the gods – to the Emperor himself, given that Charles’s emblem, the eagle, corresponds to the divine attribute. As Verheyen (1966) suggested, however, it is also possible that the duke commissioned the entire cycle for himself, perhaps destined for the ‘Ovid Room’ in the Palazzo Te in Mantua. According to this theory, Federico gave them to Charles only after the latter saw and obtained the first two canvases – Jupiter and Io and Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle – which the duke donated to him with the promise that he would also soon receive the other works. (According to Verheyen, the cycle, which was executed for Federico’s lover Isabella Boschetti, consisted of many other paintings, a theory deduced from the correspondence between the duke and the governor of Parma in 1534.) Whichever hypothesis is correct, it is certain that the painting was given to Charles V, perhaps in 1530 or more likely in November 1532 (Gould 1976).

Subsequently, the painting returned to Italy by various possible routes. Here it was seen by Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo in 1584 in the Milanese collection of the sculptor Leone Leoni (Lomazzo 1584). At present, we do not know the details of how Leone’s son Pompeo came into possession of the canvas before sending it to his father in Lombardy. One theory is that he obtained it from the emperor himself; another that he purchased it through Antonio Pérez, secretary of Ruy Gómez de Silva, Prince of Eboli, who in turn could have received it from Philip II, Charles’s son (Delaforce 1982). As the variety of opinions on this complex topic shows (Verheyen 1966; Quintavalle 1970, Gould 1976; Bacchi 1997; Fabiansky 2000; Hoeninger 2001), the ‘transfer’ is still a debated point among critics. The story is further complicated by the nearly contemporary presence of the Danaë in Leoni’s collection in Milan (1584) and Perez’s in Madrid (1585): this dilemma can only be resolved by assuming either that the painting moved from Italy to Spain in a short space of time, or that a copy existed.

In any case, a recent study (Rudolf 2002) showed that the Leoni Danaë was sold by him to Rudolf II in Prague in 1601 through the ambassador Hans Khevenhüller, entering into the imperial collections. Here it was indeed mentioned in the inventory of 1621 (Zimmermann 1905, no. 894). Taken to Stockholm by Swedish troops at the end of the Thirty Years’ War (1648), it came into possession of Christina of Sweden, who brought it with her to Rome in 1655. It was indeed seen and praised in her collection by the erudite Giovanni Michele Silos, who was based in the Eternal City in 1673 (Silos 1673, ed. 1979). In 1689, Christina gave the work to Cardinal Decio Azzolini, who bequeathed it to his nephew Pompeo Azzolini.

In 1697, the Danaë was sold to Prince Livio Odescalchi. Through Marquis Baldassarre Erba Odescalchi, it came into possession of first Pierre Crozat and then Philippe II, Duke of Orleans (Gould, 1976). In 1780, the work found its way onto the London art market, together with much of the collection of the powerful French prince. In 1816, it passed into the hands of the Duke of Bridgewater, who ceded it to Henry Hope, who in turn sold it to the Parisian antiques dealer Bonnemaison. It was from the last-named figure that Camillo Borghese purchased the work in 1827 for 285 pounds. (Gould 1976). On its journey back to Italy it was intentionally mislabelled: this was the expedient concocted by Evasio Gozzani to avoid paying a burdensome import tax in the Papal States (M. Minozzi in Correggio 2008). Once in Rome, the work was first taken to Palazzo Borghese in Campo Marzio and then to the Casino di Porta Pinciana in 1891. Together with other masterpieces, it remained here after the sale of the Borghese possessions to the Italian state in 1902. As Marina Minozzi (2008) explained, following its return to the Eternal City it was viewed and admired by important artists and experts of the time, who were captivated by its beauty. In particular, the great painter Vincenzo Camuccini sang its praises, immediately recognising the hand of Allegri ‘[...] in the elegance of the chiaroscuro masses, in the brightness and transparency of the colours, in the smoothness and softness of the rendering of the hair’ (Minozzi 2008).

With regard to the subject of the canvas, Correggio undoubtedly managed to give an interpretation to one of the images most dear to 16th-century painting in a way which downplays its erotic character. Here Danaë prudently alludes to the carnal union narrated by Ovid by delicately raising the white sheet – symbol of the virginal veil – from her abdomen to receive her divine lover, who taking the form of a golden rain moistens her womb while covering her in coins. A young winged boy of striking beauty assists the princess: he is Hymen, protector of marriage, depicted here while he examines the first drops of rain in the palm of his hand. Not by chance does this gesture occupy the centre of the scene: it compels the observer to move her gaze toward the lap of the beautiful Argive. In the lower portion of the scene, Eros and his companion, perhaps Anteros, are shown puffed up with love as they assess the purity of the gold – and therefore also the authenticity of Jupiter’s feeling – by rubbing the tip of an arrow and one of the coins on a touchstone. Their expressions, rendered with great ease, constitute one of the most poignant proofs of Correggio’s remarkable skill. Likewise, the representation of the flesh and the tender wings attest to the painter’s talent. The latter motif identifies the little boy on the right as celestial love, shown face-to-face with his inseparable fellow, the personification of earthly love.

In 1957, Arthur Ewart Popham pointed out two drawings related to this painting, both held in Besançon. One of these is of special interest, as it depicts Danaë in a different position from the one that she adopts in the canvas. An 18th-century engraving by Étienne Desrochers (British Museum, inv. 1837, 0408.338), finally, suggests that the painting was actually executed in 1531.


Antonio Iommelli


  • G. Vasari, Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori. Nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, a cura di R. Bettarini, Firenze 1966-1987, IV, p. 50;
  • G. Lomazzo, Trattato dell’arte della pittura, scultura et architettura, Milano, per Paolo Gottardo Ponzio, 1584, p. 212;
  • M. Boschini, La Carta del Navegar pittoresco. Dialogo tra un Senator venetian delegante, e un professor de Pitura, in Venetia, 1660, p. 302;
  • G. M. Silos, Pinacotheca, sive Romana pittura et sculptura, Roma 1673, I, p. 52;
  • J. Richardson, Traité de la peinture et de la sculpture. Divisé en trois tomes, Amsterdam, Uytwerf, 1728, pp. 284-289;
  • L. F. Dubois de Saint Gelais, Description des tableaux du Palais Roy avec la vie des peintres à la tête de leurs ouvrages, Paris, d'Houry, 1737, pp. 52-60;
  • J-A. Piganiol de la Force, Description historique de la ville de Paris, II, Paris 1765, p. 234;
  • J. Richard, Description historique et critique de l'Italie..., III, München 1766, pp. 85, 105;
  • G. Pelli, Saggio Istorico della Real Galleria di Firenze, II, Firenze, per Gaetano Cambiagi Stamperia Granducale, 1779, p. 10;
  • G. N. D’Azara, Opere di Anthon Raphael Mengs primo pittore della Maestà di Carlo III Re di Spagna, Parma, nella Stamperia Reale, 1780, pp. 135-190;
  • C. G. Ratti, Notizie storiche sincere intorno la Vita e le Opere del Celebre Pittore Antonio Allegri da Correggio, Finale Ligure 1781, pp. 36-46;
  • L-A. de Bonafons Fontenai, Galerie du Palais Royal, Paris, Couché, 1786, tav. 118;
  • J. D. Fiorillo, Geschichte der Künste und Wissenschaften seit der Wiederhesrstellung dersleben bis an das Ende des anchtzehnten Jahrunderts, II, Göttingen 1801, pp. 251, 317;
  • L. Pungileone, Memorie Istoriche di Antonio Allegri detto il Correggio, II, Parma 1818, pp. 242-245; III, Parma 1821, pp. 91, 95, 139;
  • W. Buchanau, Memoirs of painting with a cronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution, I, London 1824, pp. 59, 70;
  • G. F. Waagen, Kunstwerke und Kunstler in England und Paris, I, Berlin 1837, p. 492;
  • G. Melchiorri, Guida, Roma 1840, p. 575;
  • P. Martini, Studi intorno il Correggio, Parma 1865, pp. 197, 199;
  • L. Uhrlichs, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kunstbestrebungen und Sammlungen Kaiser Rudolph’s II, in “Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst”, V, 1870, pp. 81, 84;
  • F. P. Segnier, Dictionary of the works of Painters, London 1870, pp. 2-3;
  • J. Meyer, Correggio, Leipzig 1871, pp. 250-253, 352, 353, 432, 490;
  • J. Lermolieff, Die Galerien Roms. Ein Kritischer Verssuch. I. Die Galerie Borghese, in “Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst”, X, 1875, pp. 322-323;
  • G. C. Marchi Castellini, Antonio Allegri detto il Correggio, Correggio 1880, pp. 105-106;
  • H. von Tschudi, Correggio’s Mythologische Darstellung, Graphischen Kunsten, Wien 1880, p. 10;
  • T. Gautier, Guide de l’amateur au Musée du Luovre suivi de la vie et des oeuvres de quelques peintres, Paris 1882, pp. 224, 251;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 83;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 94;
  • M. Compton Heaton, Correggio, London 1896, pp. 64-65;
  • G. Morelli, Della Pittura Italiana. Studi Storici Critici: Le Gallerie Borghese e Doria Pamphili in Roma, Milano 1897, pp. 226-228;
  • C. Ricci, La Galleria Borghese, Roma 1897, p. 359;
  • H. von Voltelini, Quellen zur Geschichte der Kaiserlichen Haussammlungen und der Kunstbestrebungen des Allerdurchlauchtigsten Erzhauses Urkunden und Regesten aus dem K. u. K. Haus-Hof. und Staats Archiv in Wien, in “Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerh. Kaiserhauses”, XIX, 1898, pp. II, XXI;
  • H. Thode, Correggio. Kunstler Monographien Herausgegeben von H. Knackfuss, Leipzig 1898, pp. 103-106;
  • M. Albana Mignaty, Correggio. La vita e le Opere, Parigi 1900, pp. 294-295, 324, 331;
  • S. Reinach, Répertoire de Peinture, Paris 1905, p. 756;
  • G. Lafenestre, E. Richtenberger, La peinture en Europe. Rome. Les Musées, les Collections particulières, les Palais, Paris 1905, p. 18;
  • H. Zimmermann, Das Inventar der Prager Schatz- und Kunstkammer von 6 Dezember 1621, in "Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhaus", I, 1905, n. 894;
  • G. Gronau, Correggio, Stuttgart und Leipzig 1906-1907, pp. XLV, 116-118, 163-164;
  • G. Cantalamessa, Un Pensiero sul Correggio, in "Vita d’Arte”, I, 1908, p. 33;
  • C. Ricci, Villa Borghese in Roma. Visioni e figure, Milano 1924, pp. 152-154;
  • G. Copertini, Note sul Correggio, Parma 1925, p. III;
  • A. Venturi, Il Correggio, Roma 1926, pp. 81, 84 ss;
  • A. Venturi, Un’opera dimenticata di Tiziano a Napoli, in “L’Arte”, XXXIX, 1926, IX, 2, p. 610;
  • P. Schubring, Die Kunst der Hochrenaissance in Italien, Berlin, p. 591;
  • S. De Vito Battaglia, Correggio. Bibliografia a cura dell’Istituto di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte, Roma 1934, nn. 5, 27, 46, 48, 51, 66, 76, l08, 145, 272, 289, 315, 365, 374, 482, 505, 644, 647, 649, 826, 831, 833, 865, 872, 887, 983, 1014, 1106, 1115, 1117, 1118, 1149, 1152;
  • A. Venturi, Correggio, Milano 1935, pp. 9, 50, 64;
  • Mostra del Correggio, catalogo della mostra (Parma, Palazzo della Pilotta, 1935), compilato da A. O. Quintavalle, I, Parma 1935, p. 140;
  • A. Busuioceanu, Trois tableaux ignorés du Corrège, in “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”, XIX, 1938, pp. 16 sgg;
  • E. Bodmer, Il Correggio e gli Emiliani, Novara 1943, p. XX;
  • A. De Rinaldis, Catalogo della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1948, p. 81;
  • A. De Rinaldis, Danae o la Pioggia d’oro, Milano 1949;
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Milano 1950, p. 36;
  • G. Bendinelli, Critici Romani del primo Ottocento intorno a un quadro celebre. La Danae della Galleria Borghese, in “L’Urbe”, 1952, pp. 3 ss;
  • C.A. Petrucci, Catalogo generale delle Stampe tratte dai rami incisi posseduti dalla Calcografia Nazionale, Roma 1953, pp. 100, 148;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, pp. 24-25, n. 24 ;
  • R. Finzi, Divagazioni correggesche, in “Parma per l’arte”, IV, 1954, p. 67;
  • C. H. Bession, Drawings atrributed to Correggio at the Metropolitan Musem of a Art, in “Art Bulletin”, XXXVI, 1954, p. 225;
  • C. Mollica, Le Corrège, Beirut 1956, p. 29;
  • R. Longhi, Il Correggio e la camera di S. Paolo, Parma 1956, p. 37;
  • A. E. Popham, Correggio Drawing's, Londra 1957, pp. 92, 95;
  • P. D'Ancona, M. L. Gengaro, Umanesimo e Rinascimento. Storia dell'arte classica e italiana, III, Torino 1958, p. 692;
  • G. Copertini, La “forma mentis” del Correggio e il clima culturale-artistico di Parma rinascimentale: Raffaello nell'Emilia e il Pordenone a Mantova e Cremona, in “Parma per l’arte”, XI, 1961, pp. 161-192;
  • S. Zamboni, Correggio, Milano 1963, p. 6;
  • C. Gould, An X-ray mosaic of Correggio’s “School of Love”, in “The Burlington Magazine”, CVI, 1964, p. 423;
  • E. Verheyen, Correggio’s “Amori di Giove”, in “Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes”, XXIX, 1966, pp. 160-192;
  • A. C. Quintavalle, A. Bevilacqua, L’opera Completa del Correggio, Milano 1970, p. 109;
  • C. Gould, The paintings of Correggio, London 1976, pp. 130, 270-271;
  • A. Delaforce, The collection of Antonio Pérez, Secretary of State to Philiph II, in "The Burlington Magazine", CXXIV, 1982, p. 750;
  • M. G. Bernardini, in La Danae e la pioggia d’oro. Un capolavoro di Antonio Allegri detto il Correggio restaurato, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Museo Palazzo Venezia, 1992), a cura di M. G. Bernardini, Roma 1991, pp. 15-26;
  • P. Barolsky, Ovidian wit and erotic play in the painted poetry of Correggio, in “Source”, XII, 1993, pp. 19-23;
  • M. Di Giampaolo, A. Muzzi, Correggio: catalogo completo dei dipinti, Firenze 1993, pp. 128-129;
  • A. Bacchi, in Le delizie di Stupinigi e della “Danae” del Correggio: Camillo Borghese tra impero e restaurazione, catalogo della mostra (Stupinigi, Museo dell’Arredamento, 1997), a cura di M. Di Macco, Torino 1997, pp. 109-110;
  • A. Costamagna, in Le delizie di Stupinigi e della “Danae” del Correggio: Camillo Borghese tra impero e restaurazione, catalogo della mostra (Stupinigi, Museo dell’Arredamento, 1997), a cura di
  • M. Di Macco, Torino 1997, p. 46;
  • M. Di Macco, in Le delizie di Stupinigi e della “Danae” del Correggio: Camillo Borghese tra impero e restaurazione, catalogo della mostra (Stupinigi, Museo dell’Arredamento, 1997), a cura di
  • M. Di Macco, Torino 1997, pp. 11-15;
  • D. Ekserdjian, Correggio, Milano 1997, pp. 279-291;
  • M. Fabiański, Correggio’s angel in Parma cathedral, “Ganymede”, and Raphael, in “Master drawings”, XXXV, 1997, pp. 50-53;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Guida alla Galleria Borghese, Roma 1997, pp. 75-77;
  • A. Ventura, in Immagini degli Dei. Mitologia e collezionismo tra Cinquecento e Seicento, catalogo della mostra (Lecce, Fondazione Memmo, 1996-1997), a cura di C. Cieri Via, Milano 1996, pp. 202-203;
  • M. Fabiański, Correggio’s Erotic Poesy, Cracovia 1998, pp. 61-73; Felipe II: un monarca y su época; un príncipe del Renacimiento, catalogo della mostra (Madrid, Museo del Prado 1998-99), a cura di F. Checa Cremades, Madrid 1998, p. 374, n. 75;
  • M. Fabiański, Correggio: le mitologie d’amore, Cinisello Balsamo 2000, pp. 22, 85-99, 134-138, 156-157, 161-163;
  • C. Stefani, in P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 244;
  • L. Dittmann, Die Wiederkehr der antiken Götter im Bilde, Versuch einer neuen Dentung, Schöningh 2001, pp. 51-74;
  • C. S. Hoeninger, The reception of Correggio's 'Loves of Jupiter', in Coming about, a cura di L.R. Jones, Cambridge 2001, pp. 192-194; Rudolf 2002,
  • D. Ekserdjian, in Parmigianino e il manierismo europeo, catalogo della mostra (Parma, Galleria Nazionale, 2003; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, 2003), a cura di L. Fornari Schianchi, S. Ferino-Pagden, Cinisello Balsamo 2003, p. 200, n. I.17;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, in Cristina di Svezia: le collezioni reali, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Fondazione Memmo, 2003-2004), a cura di S. Di Gioia, Milano 2003, pp. 166-170, n. 50;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 45;
  • P. Humfrey, Tiziano, New York 2007, pp. 92, 94, fig. 66;
  • D. Ekserdjian, in Correggio, catalogo della mostra (Parma, Galleria Nazionale-Camera di San Paolo-Cattedrale-Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista, 2008-2009), a cura di L. Fornari Schianchi, Milano 2008, p. 321, n. III.32;
  • M. Minozzi, Correggio nella collezione Borghese, in Correggio e l'antico, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Borghese, 2008), a cura di A. Coliva, Milano 2008, pp. 63-67;
  • M. Spagnolo, in Correggio e l'antico, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Borghese, 2008), a cura di A. Coliva, Milano 2008, pp. 134-135, n. 24.