Listen to a Rembrandt Come to Life

Look, listen, and discover that Rembrandt's 'The Abduction of Europa' holds more than meets the eye

By Google Arts & Culture

The Abduction of Europa (1632) by Rembrandt Harmensz. van RijnThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Detail 01 - Rembrandt

A peaceful trip to the seaside together. Yet, something seems to upset this idyllic setting… 

Detail 02 - Rembrandt

A bull is dragging one of the young women in the sea! She’s Europa: princess of the city of Tyre. In the Metamorphoses, Ovid tells us that she was abducted and whisked off by Zeus, who had changed himself into this animal.

Detail 03 - Rembrandt

She’s terrified: clinging to the white fur, she turns her desperate look to her mates. The wind blows up her dress and ruffles her hair.

Detail 04 - Rembrandt

Rembrandt adopts the typical artifices of Baroque painting to captivate us: the composition is dynamic, animated by stark contrasts of light and shadow and it’s focused on the dramatic expression of feelings.

Detail 05 - Rembrandt

The realistic rendering of the abduction reigns in the painting, as if the circumstances were actually real: even the charioteer in dim light on the carriage – item contemporary to the artist – stands up agitated.

Detail 06 - Rembrandt

The handmaids aren’t depicted as women of Greek antiquity, but as baroque beauties in sumptuous dresses with brocades and golden threads.

Detail 07 - Rembrandt

This coexistence of present and past touches every detail. What will be the city shrouded in fog in the background? Ancient Tyre or seventeenth-century Amsterdam?

Detail 08 - Rembrandt

With its intense chiaroscuro accentuations, the landscape is gloomy and unsettling, in line with the princess’ mood of dismay and fear.

Credits: Story

Text and sounds by eArs ▬ making arts & culture a place for everybody

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