• Rape of Europa

    Artist:
    Jordaens, Jacob. 1593-1678
    Technique:
    pen and brown wash over sketch in black chalk, aquarel, gouache
    Dimensions:
    23x38,5 cm

Jordaens, Jacob. 1593-1678

Rape of Europa

Flanders, circa 1655-1660

The Phoenician princess (and nymph) Europa was abducted by the god Zeus who fell in love with her and appeared to her in the guise of a white bull. In the sky here we see Boreus, the god of the north wind, and on the shore Europa’s companions, bidding her farewell. This graphic composition is a late variation by Jordaens of his treatment of a mythological subject that had already attracted his attention several times previously, in the 1610s–30s. In contrast to the paintings of his early period, the drawing presents the story of Zeus’s abduction of the beauty in a rather ironical manner. One cannot help but smile at the loveable, curly-headed bull and the god Boreus, furiously beating the air with his arms and legs like a swimmer, while puffing out his cheeks, and at the depictions of Europa’s fellow nymphs who failed to catch the Thunderer’s attention and have been left behind on the shore. Europa herself seems to be neither missing her homeland, nor especially frightened: throwing off her shawl, she sits calmly on the bull’s back, firmly grasping the horn of her divine lover. This sort of approach – the humorous deprecation of poetic or heroic subjects – was in general characteristic of Jordaens’s frame of mind in the late part of his career.

Title:

Rape of Europa

Place:

Material:

Technique:

pen and brown wash over sketch in black chalk, aquarel, gouache

Dimensions:

23x38,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Originally in the Heinrich von Brühl collection

Inventory Number:

ОР-4210

Category:

Collection: