The painting was commissioned in 1621 by Giovanni Antonio Sauli who had invited Gentileschi to Genoa. Gentileschi painted a number of works for Sauli besides the Danäe, including a Penitent Magdalen and a Lot and his Daughters. The painting draws together the Caravaggesque naturalism that influenced Gentileschi's earlier work with the Tuscan lyricism he later developed.
The subject of the painting is the ancient Greek myth of Danaë, which tells of how Zeus, king of the gods, visited Danaë in a shower of gold, from which union Perseus was born. The myth is regarded as a forerunner of the Christian belief in the Annunciation, the divine conception of Christ.
The painting was auctioned at Sotheby's New York on 28 January 2016. It was the most important Baroque painting to be offered for sale in decades, and purchased for US$30,500,000 by the Getty. It is to be hung alongside Gentileschi's Lot and his Daughters.
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