100 Days of Art History Jinjins


The Danaides

Another John William Waterhouse painting of lovely mythological ladies in gauzy dresses. I apparently can't get enough of these. To me, they seem to typify what Art is and what beautiful women look like. Very Victorian of me.

The Danaides were a group of 50 women, all sisters, who were forced to marry a corresponding group of 50 brothers (who also happened to be their cousins). All of the Danaides except one killed their grooms while they slept. The Danaides were punished in Hades by being made to endlessly replenish a leaking container with water. In this painting John William Waterhouse shows a subset of them undergoing this punishment.

I have to say, they don't look that much like they're suffering, do they? There is a lovely rhythm to their water pots and their limbs. The pot they're filling looks pretty nice (even if the "leak" is made of a hilarious grotesque face, which I did have fun putting glasses on in my version.)

One random detail, I later read in a book on John William Waterhouse that he often uses a "keyhole" shaped composition, with many figures surrounding and facing a central focal point. This painting more or less fits that pattern, with all the female figures surrounding the central water pot.

I do always enjoy drawing myself as multiple people, so that was a bonus of this entry as well.

Reference image is frrom the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums, where this painting is today.

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