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The Rape of Europa
Bassano, Leandro
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Bassano, Leandro

Bassano del Grappa, Veneto (Italy), 1557 - Venice (Italy), 1622

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The Rape of Europa

Late XVI century. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

The lack of an autograph work of this theme by Jacopo suggests that the idea for the composition came from Francesco at the end of the 1570s, by which time he had gained greater independence from his father and found a Venetian clientele who was receptive to this subject matter. Two further versions are known: one hangs in the Galleria degli Uffizi (inv. 6.219), and the other was auctioned in 1976 (London, Sotheby´s, 12 May 1976). Like the Uffizi version, the Prado painting is ascribed to Leandro, whereas the third is attributed to Francesco, who did two preparatory drawings that illustrate how the family bottega worked. The first, Mercury with the Cattle and The Rape of Europa, was sold by Christie´s on 2 July 1993, and is a preliminary sketch outlining the basic elements of the composition, such as the number, arrangement and scale of objects and figures. The following step prior to transferring the figure to the canvas is illustrated in a drawing of Mercury with his physical features and clothing more clearly defined (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi 13052F; 208 x 195 mm). The figure of Mercury is cut off at knee level, which is where the lamb appears in the painting showing how different drawings were juxtaposed in the form of a collage until the composition was completed. Although both drawings are similar to the Prado painting, there are certain differences. In addition to small changes in his attire, Mercury is shown in a more upright position in the painting. In the same way, the caduceus appears rigidly vertical in the painting, whereas it is more diagonal in the drawings (Text drawn from Falomir, M.: Los Bassano en la España del Siglo de Oro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2001, p. 242).

Technical data

Inventory number
Bassano, Leandro
The Rape of Europa
Late XVI century
Height: 93.5 cm; Width: 115.5 cm
Royal Collection (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, piezas de Consulta de Muerte, 1772, nº 424).

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº606.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 300, n. 139.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Los Bassano en la España del Siglo de Oro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2001, pp. 144.

Ruíz Manero, J. M., Los Bassano en España, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2011, pp. 187-189, n. 7L; 486, il. XXXV.

Orihuela, Mercedes, El Prado disperso. Obras depositadas en la Embajada y en el Consulado de París y en la Embajada de Lisboa., Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXX, 2012, pp. 128-136 [128].

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 207 nº 65.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 606.
Bassano (Leandro da Ponte, llamado el) / 606. Pais. / Se descubre el mar, y en el á Jupiter robando á Europa transformado en toro. En primer termino está Mercurio guardando ganados. / Alto 3 pies, 4 pulg; ancho 4 pies, 1 pulg, 4 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 606.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 54.

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. 424.
Piezas de Consulta de Muerte [...] [14387] 424 / La fábula de Europa de vara y quarta de largo y lo mismo de caida del Basan

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Location +

París - Embajada de España en París (Deposit)

Update date: 23-12-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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