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The Gold-Digger

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, Portrait of Mlle. Lange as Danae, 1799, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund (Gallery 306)

Miss Lange was a famed actress, beauty, and paramour. After seeing her portrait by Girodet, she deemed it unflattering, refusing to pay the full price and insisting it be removed from public view. Enraged, the artist sought revenge with this second, satirical portrait. In Greek mythology, Danae was a mortal loved by Zeus, who transformed himself into a shower of gold and fell upon her. Girodet shows Lange greedily catching the coins. What’s more, the painting’s symbols are scathing. The turkey wearing a wedding ring represents her mercenary marriage. The cracked mirror denotes her inability to see herself as Girodet saw her—as a vain gold-digger.

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