Collection Online
The daughters of Danaus
oil on canvas
57.1 × 153.0 cm
inscribed in black paint l.r.: Fernand Sabatté
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Bequest of Miss M. Y. E. Tate, 1977
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Acquired from the artist by the Tate family, Rye, Suffolk, probably early 20th century [1]; by descent to Miss Marion Yule Elford Tate (1887–1977), Rye, Suffolk, before 1977; bequeathed to the NGV, 1977.

[1] James Charles Tate (1853–1938), the patriarch of this family and a retired tobacco farmer, probably acquired this painting in the early 20th century. He and his wife Marion Morrison Tate (1852–1938) had three children, the eldest of which was Marion Yule Elford Tate (1887–1977). She outlived her siblings Evelyn Mary Elford Tate (1888–1974) and James Elford Tate (1892–1944). The family, along with James Charles Tate’s sister Georgina Sarah Tate (1857–1950) are buried together in Rye Cemetery, Suffolk.

According to classical legend, the Danaïds were the fifty daughters of King Danaus who were betrothed to the fifty sons of Danaus’s brother Aegyptus. Danaus, who was opposed to this marriage between the cousins, persuaded his daughters to take daggers to their bridal chambers. All but one of his daughters followed his advice and murdered their new husbands on their wedding night. For this crime, the Danaïds were condemned, upon their deaths, to spend eternity in the Underworld, performing useless labour, carrying water to a vessel which never filled.


This frame takes the form of a tabernacle frame from the fifteenth century, though lacking any surface ornament it reveals a modernist aesthetic.

Unknown - 19th century