The Rape of Europa

WAG 2771


Europa was a princess in Greek mythology. She was kidnapped by Zeus, the god of thunder. Zeus turned himself into a bull to lure her. Once she had climbed on his back, he carried her away. There are many dark and violent stories from Greek and Roman mythology. They often normalise the assault of women. These tales would have been considered love stories in ancient culture but are shocking to us today. Cavallino was based in Naples and painted many literary subjects, including this one, taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.