This is the only painting Waterhouse submitted to the Royal Academy in 1906. The Danaides II has a more vibrant colour palette when compared with the earlier work. The painting is a depiction of Greek mythology, the Danaides with the daughters of King Danaus in Hades. The fifty daughters of the king were forced to marry the fifty sons of his rival, King Aegyptus. Their father ordered them to kill their husbands on the wedding night. They succeeded, except one maiden who truly loved her husband. As a result, the others were condemned to Hades to forever pour water into a vessel with holes in the bottom, resulting in everlasting punishment for their deeds.
The seven maidens in the painting pour water into a pot whose leaking hole is a grimacing mouth. This “mouth” spills a large amount of water. The pot is mounted on two claw-like feet. All the maidens are carrying copper pitchers. Two of them are filling the leaking pot. The others are carrying their pitchers in various positions as if to assist in filling it. The maidens are in a cave-like setting, with rocky cliffs in the background and a glimpse of the skyline above the cliffs. The colours in the Danaides II are brighter as compared to the earlier work with the maidens’ garments in brighter hues. The artist also incorporates more hues in this piece.
Waterhouse’s artwork is best known for illustrations of women from ancient Greek mythology and legends and medieval stories centred around King Arthur. Hunt and Millais, artists who were founders and propagators of the Pre-Raphaelite influences in art, greatly influenced Waterhouse’s painting with the incorporation of literary themes and spiritual influences. This is evident in this painting’s depiction of the Danaides mythology. Waterhouse continued to use this style of painting even after the popularity of the Pre-Raphaelite movement had waned. His work often depicted seven figures. In this painting, as if to keep to his signature style, he portrays only seven maidens out of the fifty in the myth. The Danaides II is part of the gallery collection of the Aberdeen Art Gallery. It was acquired in 1927 after the previous owner, James Murray, sold it to Christie’s. It was then acquired at the Christies auction by the Aberdeen Art Gallery.