Tapestry: Zeus and Danae (Probably from the series The Story of Perseus)

about 1525–50

Object Place: Probably Brussels, Flanders


415 x 465 cm (163 3/8 x 183 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tapestry; wool warp; wool and silk wefts

Not On View


Europe, Textiles and Fashion Arts



This tapestry shows early incidents in the story of Perseus. The action takes place around and inside a building which occupies most of the upper half of the field. On the left Danae with two attendents enters the prison chamber as Acrisius and two attendants look on. In the center Zeus visits Danae in a shower of gold. On the right Acrisius with attendants puts Danae and the infant Perseus to sea in a small boat. In the foreground is a garden with six court ladies. The border shows a dense mass of flowering vines and fruits. A scroll in the center of the upper border is inscribed: ACRISIONIADES PLVVIO SATVS EX IOVIS AVRO EXILIVM PERSEVS CVM GENITRICE TVLIT (“Perseus Acrisionades, begot from Jove in a shower of gold, endured exile with his mother”.)


Possibly as early as the eighteenth century, the Chateau de Mailloc, near Caen, Calvados, France [see note 1]; 1925, sold by the comte de Colbert-Laplace to Edouard Jonas (b. 1883 - d. 1961), Paris and New York; 1926, sold by Jonas to Mr. and Mrs. Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; 1950, gift of Irene Rothschild (Mrs. Solomon R.) Guggenheim to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 8, 1950)

[1] At the time of its sale, Edouard Jonas attested that the tapestry had hung in the Chateau de Mailloc for over 200 years. It was certainly there by 1870, when it was lent to the Exposition Rétrospective, Lisieux (August, 1870). A fire destroyed the chateau and its contents three weeks after the tapestry was sold by its owner, the comte de Colbert-Laplace, in 1925; contemporary news accounts erroneously stated that it had been lost in the fire.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Solomon R. Guggenheim