NO. 5

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Abduction of Europa

With this dramatic interpretation of Jupiter’s seduction of Europa, princess of Tyre, Rembrandt confidently asserted his status as a worthy member of an elite circle of history painters. While following the ancient Roman poet Ovid’s account closely, his own inclination to express profound human aspects of drama are clearly present: Europa’s fingers dig deeply into the bull’s neck, and her backward gaze links her directly to her attendants, who register a range of emotions, from horror to resignation. The same youthful features and animated blonde locks of an unknown young woman (New York, The Leiden Collection) inspired the portrayal of both the princess and the standing woman in red. Rembrandt employed a range of brushwork and textures in this work, from the thin reflections in the water to the bumpy brocades and textured vegetation of the landscape.

The Abduction of Europa, 1632. Oil on panel, 25 7/16 x 31 in. (64.6 x 78.7 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 95.PB.7