Pair Of Vases

Orazio Fontana

Italian, ca. 1510 - 1576

Pair of Vases, n.d.

  • On View

Tin-glazed earthenware

Dimensions: 15 1/2 × 11 in. (39.4 × 27.9 cm)

Gift of Mrs. Viola E. Bray, 2005.157.2

This vase depicts the Roman mythological scene of Danaë and the Shower of Gold. In several myths, Zeus, the king of the gods, disguises himself in order to have sexual relations with mortal women. After a prophecy predicted that Danaë’s future son would kill her father, she was locked in a bronze tower so that she would remain childless. Nevertheless, Zeus visited Danaë as a shower of gold during her imprisonment and impregnated her. She bore the hero Perseus, who, as the prophecy foretold, killed his grandfather. The opposite side of this vase (see picture) shows the Greek myth known as The Judgment of Paris. In this legendary contest, Paris, the handsome Trojan prince, had to choose which of three goddesses was the most beautiful. He awards a golden apple to Venus, goddess of love, over Juno and Minerva because Venus promised him Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris’ action was said to launch the Trojan War.

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