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Rape of Europa

Titian17th century

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery
London, United Kingdom

This painting is a scaled-down 17th-century copy after Titian’s original Rape of Europa, possibly made by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (c.1612-1667), son-in-law of Velázquez. Mazo was a painter in the Spanish court and is known to have copied works by Titian in the Spanish Royal collection as a way of developing his own painting.
Taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, this scene depicts the most dramatic moment from the legend of Europa where Jupiter, in the form of a white bull, kidnaps the princess and carries her over the sea to the island of Crete.

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  • Title: Rape of Europa
  • Date: 17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w571 x h467 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: Italian
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: ?William Harris; his sale, London, Christie's, 7 Feb. 1807, lot 28 ('Titian-The Rape of Europa - the original design for the celebrated large Picture in the Collection of the Earl of Carlisle'). Bt Bourgeois for £33.12; London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: "This painting is a scaled-down 17th-century copy after Titian's original Rape of Europa, possibly made by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo (c.1612-1667), son-in-law of Velázquez. Mazo is documented as having copied works by Titian held in the Spanish royal collection, so we can presume it was in this capacity that Dulwich's Rape of Europa was made. Episodes from Ovid's Metamorphoses formed the basis of Titian's series of poesie. By 1554, the artist had sent his patron, Philip II of Spain, two such paintings: a Danaë, and the original Venus and Adonis (both Museo del Prado, Madrid). Over the next decade Titian would send his patron a further four: Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto (both jointly owned by the National Gallery, London, and National Galleries of Scotland), Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection, London) and The Rape of Europa (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, USA). One final poesia, The Death of Actaeon (National Gallery, London), remained in Titian's studio after his death. As with the other poesie, Titian takes Ovid's Metamorphoses as his source. He depicts the most dramatic part of the tale whereby Jupiter, assuming the form of a docile white bull in order to entice Europa, kidnaps his beloved princess and carries her to an island where he will consummate his passion. Here we see the transfigured god charging over the waves with a terrified Europa in tow, as Ovid described it: ""Fear filled her heart as, gazing back, she saw The fast receding sands. Her right hand grasped A horn, the other lent upon his back"""
  • After: Titian
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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