In her thesis, Köllner wishes to establish the common factor in the representation of Danaë, independent of the medium (text, painting, wood engraving, drawing etc.), and her research indicates that the myth of Danaë has survived thanks to its successful imagery, especially that of the golden rain, that has lent itself to contradictory interpretations in subsequent periods of western art and literature. The imagery served different masters: it helped to form a view of morality and virtue, or could masque the enjoyment of erotic pleasures. Furthermore, Köllner argues that the change of golden rain into golden coins, established another interpretation, based on trade, whereby both Zeus and Danaë exchanged 'goods', or gold for a child. That may be true, the Ricketts images, however, do not really support the last thesis, as both Sturge Moore and Ricketts who illustrated his friend's poem, held on to the image of the golden rain or golden light.
In some images of Danaë a parallel has been established between Danaë and Maria, or the Madonna in Christian art. Ricketts also alludes to the Madonna in his second illustration.
|Charles Ricketts, wood engraving 'She kneels in awe beholding lavish light' (1903)
|Charles Ricketts, wood engraving 'She kneels in awe beholding lavish light' (1903) [detail]
[To be continued.]