Danaë (Rembrandt painting)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Danaë is Rembrandt's painting from the collection of Pierre Crozat which from the 18th century resides in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. It depicts the character Danaë from Greek mythology, the mother of Perseus. She is presumably depicted as welcoming Zeus, who impregnated her in the form of a shower of gold. Given that this is one of Rembrandt's most magnificent painting, it is not out of the question that he cherished it, but it also may have been difficult to sell because of its eight-by-ten-foot size. Although the artist's wife Saskia was the original model for Danaë, Rembrandt later changed the figure's face to that of his mistress Geertje Dircx.
On June 15, 1985 Rembrandt's painting was attacked by a man later judged insane; he threw sulfuric acid on the canvas and cut it twice with his knife. The entire central part of the composition was turned into a mixture of spots with a conglomerate of splashes and areas of dripping paint.
The process of restoring the painting began the same day. Following consultations with chemists, art restorers began washing the surface of the painting with water; they kept the painting in the vertical position, and blew mouthfuls of water at the painting to prevent further degradation of the painting.
The restoration of the painting was accomplished between 1985 and 1997 by staff of the State Hermitage's Laboratory of Expert Restoration of Easel Paintings: Ye.N. Gerasimov (group leader), A.G. Rakhman, and G.A. Shirokov, with the participation of T.P. Alioshina in matters of scientific methodology.