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Rape of Europa

This painting is a scaled-down 17th-century copy after Titian's original Rape of Europa, possibly made by Juan Bautista Mart¡nez del Mazo (c.1612-1667), son-in-law of Vel zquez. 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 Dana‰, 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"

Not currently on display

After Titian
17th Century
46.7 x 57.1 cm
Oil on canvas
Bourgeois Bequest, 1811
Accession number
Adopted by Julieta Green, a guide at the Gallery, in memory of her parents, William and Natalie Preston, 2007