The Rape of Europa.
Titian’s dramatic painting the Rape of Europa is set in a richly coloured landscape. Europa is depicted in a diagonal pose balanced on the back of a bull. In Roman mythology Jupiter is in love with the princess Europa, determined to seduce her he transforms himself into a white bull and mingles with her father’s herd. When the princess climes upon the back of the bull she is whisked away into the sea.
Jupiter (the bull) swims to the island of Crete and consummates his lust. Europa became the first queen of Crete and the continent of Europe is ultimately derived from her name. Jupiter recreated the shape of the white bull as the constellation Taurus. Greek mythology adopted the story substituting the god Jupiter with Zeus.
The mythological paintings produced by Titian are a small part of the work that he completed during his long lifetime. When he started his great series for Philip II, (who was at that time the most powerful ruler in the world), the artist was almost seventy years old.
These spectacular works have been admired by generations of art lovers and have inspired many of the artists who followed Titian’s fine contribution to Western art.