- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- The Rape of Europe
- 182,5 cm x 201,5 cm
- On display
- Colección Rubens hasta 1640. Colección Real (Palacio de El Pardo, Madrid, sala de la antecámara, 1701, nº 61; El Pardo, pieza undécima, 1747, nº 119; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 935; Palacio Real, Madrid, pieza de comer, 1814-1818, nº 935).
According to book II of Ovid's Metamorphosis, Jupiter fell in love with Princess Europe and transformed himself into a white bull in order to kidnap her. He stealthily approaches the beach where she is playing with her companions in order to draw her away and carry her over the sea to Crete. The cupid riding a dolphin alludes to the impatience of Love, while the two cupids that accompany them with a bow and the arrows of love announce the god's success in seducing her.
Here, Rubens copied an original that Titian (Ca. 1485-1576) made for Felipe II. That work was in Madrid in 1628, when Rubens visited Spain for the second time. Unlike his other copies of Titian, here, Rubens is very faithful to the original, which is now at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
This work belonged to the painter until his death in 1640 and was acquired at the auction of his belongings by Felipe IV.