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Paolo Veronese, The Rape of Europa

Key facts
Full title The Rape of Europa
Artist Paolo Veronese
Artist dates 1528 - 1588
Date made about 1570
Medium and support Oil on canvas glued to oak panel
Dimensions 59.5 × 70 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG97
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Rape of Europa
Paolo Veronese

In Roman mythology, the princess Europa was abducted from the coast of Tyre by the god Jupiter, who had transformed himself into a bull. We see her mounting the beast in the foreground and being carried away towards the sea at the lower left. Baby cupids throw fruit from the trees while the amorous bull impatiently licks Europa’s foot.

This picture may be a small version, known as a modello, for a full-sized final painting. It was possibly made before Veronese’s very large canvas of The Rape of Europa now in the Doge’s Palace, Venice.

For most of the twentieth century this picture was not believed to be by Veronese himself, probably because it was obscured by two extremely thick layers of dark varnish. However, when the painting was cleaned in 1999, its technique, materials and colours were found to be typical of Veronese.

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