Object Image

The Rape of Europa

In works of Claude Lorrain nature is full of majestic harmony and the space filling the landscape is flooded with light. Nature in Italy, where Poussin lived, seemed to him like a great arena, in which the events described in ancient myths and verse took place. The subject motifs in Lorrain’s landscapes are inspired by Greek mythology, ancient history, and the works of Ovid and Virgil. Apollo berates the satyr Marsyas for daring to compete with him (c. 1639), Emperor Constantine the Great defeats his rival Maxentius (1655), Zeus in the shape of a white bull carries off Europa. The sea laps gently, the treetops rise majestically, and the hills are shrouded in a bluish haze (“The Rape of Europa”). On his canvases Lorrain provided an ideal frame for these events, just as his contemporaries, landscape architects, created splendid parks from real trees, bushes and flowers.
Oil on canvas
100.0 x 137.0cm
Images and text © The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, 2018

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