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The Abduction of Europa

The Abduction of Europa
Rembrandt
1632
Oil on canvas
J. Paul Getty Museum, California

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn’s The Abduction of Europa (1632) is one of his rare mythological subject paintings. The piece is oil on canvas and now located in the J. Paul Getty Museum. The inspiration for the painting is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, part of which tells the tale of Zeus’s seduction and capture of Europa. The painting shows a coastal scene with Europa being carried away in rough waters by a bull while her friends remain on shore with expressions of horror. Rembrandt combined his knowledge of classical literature with the interests of the patron in order to create this allegorical work. The use of an ancient myth to impart a contemporary thought and his portrayal of the scene using the High Baroque style are two strong aspects of the work.

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