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upright and focused, and her legs aren't splayed open. Danae motions to her offstage lov-
er—either welcoming him into her boudoir or warning him to be cautious. Historians note
that Danae has the body of Rembrandt's first wife (the original model) and the face of his
mistress (painted over a decade later).
Catherine the Great—herself no stranger to bedroom visitors—bought this painting in
1772 as one of the works that grew into the Hermitage collection. In 1985, a crazed visitor
to the museum slashed the canvas with a knife and threw acid on Danae's face, causing
significant damage to the painting. A heroic restoration project repaired the canvas and re-
touched the melted paint.
• At the far end of the room, look for...
The Prodigal Son (c. 1669): In the Bible, Jesus tells this story of the young man who
wastes his inheritance on wine, women, and song. He returns home, drops to his knees be-
fore his father, and begs forgiveness. Rembrandt recounts the whole story—past, present,
and future—in this single moment, frozen in time. The Prodigal Son's tattered clothes and
missing shoe hint at the past—how he was once rich and wearing fine clothes, but ended up
penniless, alone, bald, and living in a pigsty. His older brother (standing to the right) is the
present: He looks down in judgment, ready to remind their dad what a bad son the Prodigal
is. But the father's face and gestures foretell the story's outcome, as he bends down to em-
brace his son with a tenderness that says all will be forgiven. The father's bright-red cloak
wraps around the poor Prodigal like loving arms.
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