From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "Danae In 1985 the painting was severely damaged, especially near the legs, when a lunatic threw sulphuric acid at it. It took the Hermitage twelve years to restore it."
Geertje Dircx (sometime between 1610 and 1615, in Edam - c. 1656) was a model and lover of Rembrandt and the wetnurse to his son Titus. Rembrandt imprisoned her, when she reneged on her promises to him.
In Rembrandt's service
She entered Rembrandt's service in around 1643, as the childless widow of Abraham Claesz. She lived with Rembrandt for six years in the Sint Antoniesbreestraat and nursed his son Titus, during which time Rembrandt fell in love with her. He gave her a number of rings that had belonged to his deceased wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, a gesture not much appreciated by Saskia's family.
In May 1649 she and Rembrandt quarrelled, probably as a consequence of Rembrandt's love for his housekeeper Hendrickje Stoffels. Rembrandt came to an agreement with Geertje that for the rest of her life he would pay her 60 guilder a year, in return for her giving him any further assistance that was necessary. In June, Geertje hired a room above a seamens' bar.
Geertje, however, summoned Rembrandt before the Commissioners of Marital Affairs on a charge of breach of promise and took his gifts such as a diamond ring to a pawnbroker's to fund the case. However, such a marriage would have resulted in the loss of Saskia's inheritance. Rembrandt offered Geertje a one-off payment of 200 guilder, to buy back the jewels that she had pawned, and after that 160 guilders annually. The commissioners raised the sum to 200 guilder, because Geertje had indicated that the previous sum could scarcely pay for the necessities of life.
When Geertje came to sign the agreement with Rembrandt, she kicked up a scene. She would not listen to the notary reading out the contract, and refused to sign to the agreement. The court particularly stated that Rembrandt had to pay a maintenance allowance, provided that she remained Titus's only heiress and sold none of Rembrandt's possessions. Rembrandt was so involved with the case and with his new affair, he did not produce a single painting that year.
When she testified again to a number of affairs of his, Rembrandt wanted Geertje locked up in 1650 in the Spinhuis in Gouda, a women's prison-madhouse. Her brother and nephew, via a number of Geertje's neighbors, helped to get Rembrandt to allow her to leave his employment. She was condemned to twelve years' imprisonment, but became ill and was released after five years. A year later she died.
Finally Rembrandt got into a quarrel with her brother and prevented him from leaving the city as carpenter on a ship bound for India.