Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Europa in Focus: Rape and Rebirth

Titian, Rape of Europa, ca. 1560-1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Special Occasion And News

Europa in Focus: Rape and Rebirth

If you read my articles, you’ll know that I tend to get political. With the European Elections coming up this weekend, I wouldn’t be myself letting it pass unnoticed. Hence, I dedicate this post to Europa, a woman after whom the entire continent takes its name.

Paestum red-figure chalice krater signed by Assteas, Europa on the bull,
370-360 BC, Museum of Sannio

Who Is She?

Europa was a Phoenician woman who had two brothers, Cilix (who gave his name to Cilicia in Asia Minor) and Cadmus who brought the alphabet to mainland Greece. Zeus became infatuated with Europa and according to the oldest Cretan stories recounting god’s numerous love affairs with women, Zeus approached the girl as a tame white bull who joined her herd. Europa, enchanted by the creature, climbed on his back to decorate his horns with flowers, but the mischievous god seized the opportunity and sprang into the ocean.

Titian, Rape of Europa, ca. 1560-1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

What Came Next?


Zeus swam across the water to reach the island of Crete, where he revealed his identity to scared Europa. She accepted him and his gifts (e.g. a necklace made by Hephaestus, a javelin that never missed and even the constellation in the shape of a bull called Taurus). From their union their son Minos was born who became the first king of Crete. Historically, from this man the first European civilization of Minoans took the beginning.


Valentin Serov, The Rape of Europa, 1910, Private Collection

Europa and Land

Ancient Greeks often identified lands or rivers with female figures. No surprise than, that in one of the Homeric hymns the name Europa is used to describe the western shore of the Aegean Sea.


Félix Vallotton, Rape of Europa, 1908, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Berne

Europa and Art


Rape, or Abduction, of Europa is a motif recurring in art. We have ancient vases, marble sculptures and, of course, painting. As with many stories from mythology, it often served as just a pretext to show a magnificent landscape, like in Claude Lorrain or Rembrandt.

Claude Lorrain, Coast Scene with the Rape of Europa, 1600-1682, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, UK
Rembrandt, Abduction of Europa, 1632, Getty Center

In the end, I invite all our European readers to go vote this weekend. Whether on a bull or on foot- go straight to the ballot box! 🙂

Gustave Moreau, The Abduction of Europa, 1869, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, US

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Special Occasion And News

  • 20th century

    Goodbye to Christo

    By

    Christo, I hope you will be wrapping up heavens. Below we’re sharing a survey of Christo’s works to remember how many groundbreaking pieces he made. It’s our goodbye to Christo. Debut Born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff to a Bulgarian industrialist family, Christo began his art education at...

  • Artist

    Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids

    By

    Sometimes it is hard to remember that famous artists were also children at one time, just like all of us. We have selected six of them for you to see how cute they were and to learn a little bit more about their lives! 1. Pablo...

  • Art State of Mind

    Cute Babies in Art: From Rubens to Cassatt

    By

    Who doesn’t like a cute baby? Lucky for us, history is full of cute babies in art. And while we could dedicate one whole article to the babies in Mary Cassatt’s paintings alone, there happen to be more artists who excelled in this genre. But where...

  • dailyart

    The Decline of Mughal Arts under Aurangzeb

    By

    Muḥī al-Dīn Muḥammad was the sixth man to ascend to the Mughal throne and the last of the strong Mughal rulers. He was a notable expansionist under whom the Mughal empire ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent. On the throne, he was known as Aurangzeb...

  • dailyart

    Happy Birthday, Kate!

    By

    This is an unusual feature and probably the only one in DailyArt Magazine history that will also come as a surprise to our beloved Editor-in-chief, Dr. Kate Wojtczak. For our readers who may have wondered who keeps the wheels of our magazine turning, meet Kate!  She...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy