The Abduction of Europa

Object Details


The Abduction of Europa


Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)






Oil on single oak panel


64.6 x 78.7 cm (25 7/16 x 31 in.)

See more

See less

In the Metamorphoses, the ancient Roman poet Ovid told a story about the god Jupiter, who disguised himself as a white bull in order to seduce the princess Europa away from her companions and carry her across the sea to the distant land that would bear her name.

During his long career Rembrandt rarely painted mythological subjects. Here he conveys a narrative story through dramatic gesture and visual effects. Bewildered, Europa grasps the bull's horn, digs her fingers into his neck, and turns back to look at her companions on the water's edge. One young woman falls to the ground and raises her arms in alarm, dropping the flower garland intended for the bull's neck into her lap, while her friend clasps her hands in consternation and watches helplessly. The carriage driver above rises to his feet and stares at the departing princess in horror. In the background, a city shrouded in mist extends along the horizon, perhaps serving as an allusion to the ancient city of Tyre as well as to contemporary Amsterdam.The dark thicket of trees to the right contrasts with the pink and blue regions of the sea and sky. Sunlight breaks through the clouds and reflects off the water, but the sky behind the trees is dark and foreboding.

A master of visual effects, Rembrandt took pleasure in describing the varied textures of sumptuous costumes and glittering gold highlights on the carriage and dresses.

- 1652

Jacques Specx, 1585 - 1652 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

- 1736

Jeanne Baptiste d'Albert de Luynes, comtesse de Verrue, 1670 - 1736 (Paris, France; Savoy), upon her death, held in trust by the estate.

1736 - 1737

Estate of Jeanne Baptiste d'Albert de Luynes, comtesse de Verrue, 1670 - 1736 [sold, Verrue sale, Paris, March 27, 1737, lot 87.]

- 1771

Marie Charles Louis d'Albert, fifth duc de Luynes, 1717 - 1771, by inheritance to his son, Louis Joseph Charles Amable d'Albert, 1771.

1771 - possibly 1793

Louis Joseph Charles Amable, sixth duc de Luynes, 1748 - 1807 [possibly sold, Luynes sale, Paillet, Lebrun, Paris, November 21, 1793, lot 18.]

by 1861 - 1865

Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, first duc de Morny, 1811 - 1865 (Paris, France) [sold, Morny sale, Pillet, Escribe, Paris, May 31, 1865, lot 70, to Constant André Say.]

1865 - 1871

Constant André Say, 1816 - 1871, by inheritance to his daughter, Marie Charlotte Constance Say, probably 1871.

probably 1871 - 1910

Marie Charlotte Constance Say, princesse de Broglie, 1857 - 1943 (Paris, France), sold to Thomas Agnew & Sons, August 1910.

1910 - 1911

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (Berlin, Germany), sold to Leopold Koppel, March 1911, for £19,000.

1911 - 1933

Leopold Koppel, 1854 - 1933, by inheritance to his daughter, Else (Koppel) Klotz, 1933.

1933 - by 1950

Else (Koppel) Klotz (probably Pontresina, Switzerland), by either gift or inheritance to her son, Leopold Hugo Paul Klotz.

by 1950 - 1993

Leopold Hugo Paul Klotz, 1909 - 1993 (New York, New York), upon his death, held in trust by the estate, 1993.

1993 - 1995

Estate of Leopold Hugo Paul Klotz, 1909 - 1993, sold through Deborah Gage Works of Art Ltd. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995.

Masterpieces of Art (European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800) (May to October, 1939) (Cat. 295)
  • New York World's Fair, (Queens), May to October, 1939
A Loan Exhibition of Rembrandt (January 19 to February 25, 1950) (Cat. 7)
  • Wildenstein & Company, (New York), January 19 to February 25, 1950
The Age of Rembrandt (October 10, 1966 to March 5, 1967) (Cat. 33)
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, October 10 to November 13, 1966
  • Toledo Museum of Art, (Toledo), November 26, 1966 to January 8, 1967
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 21 to March 5, 1967
The Glory of the Golden Age (April 15 to September 17, 2000) (Cat. 53)
  • Rijksmuseum, (Amsterdam), April 15 to September 17, 2000
Rembrandt: Pintor de Historias (October 15, 2008 to January 6, 2009) (Cat. 10)
  • Museo del Prado, (Madrid), October 15, 2008 to January 6, 2009

Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-1842), vol. 7 (1836) pp. 78, 267, no. 188.

Vernier, Valery. "La galerie de M. le comte de Morny." L'Artiste, n.s., 12, no. 1 (July 1, 1861) pp. 12-13.

Lacroix, Paul. "Notices sur les cabinets d'amateurs à Paris: Cabinet de M. Le Comte de Morny." Annuaire des artistes et des amateurs (1862) pp. 125-6.

Lagrange, Léon. "Les Cabinets d'amateurs à Paris. La Galerie de M. le duc de Morny." Gazette des beaux-arts 14 (April 1, 1863) pp. 291-92.

Catalogue des tableaux anciens & modernes, objects d'art & de curiosité composant les collections de feu M. le Duc de Morny (Paris: Charles Pillet, 1865) p. 44, no. 70.

Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt: Sa vie et ses oeuvres (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1868) p. 426.

Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt: Sa vie et ses oeuvres. 2nd ed. (1868; repr., The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1877) pp. 492-93.

Dutuit, Eugène. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt: Catalogue historique et descriptif (Paris: A. Lévy, 1885) p. 20.

Bode, Wilhelm von, and C. Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Works of Rembrandt. Florence Simmonds, trans. 8 vols. (1897-1905), vol. 1 (1897) pp. 26, 176, no. 71, ill.

Brown, G. Balwin. Rembrandt: A Study of his Life and Work (London: Duckworth and Co., 1907) pp. 18, 211, 335.

Valentiner, Wilhelm R., ed. Rembrandt: Des Meisters Gemälde in 643 Abbildungen (Stuggart and Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1908) p. 108, ill.

Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandts Gemälde. Valentiner, Wilhelm R., ed. 2 vols. (Stuttgart and Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1909), vol. 2 pp. 108, 545, 552, 569, 590, 597, ill.

Groot, Cornelis Hofstede de. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, based on the Work of John Smith. Edward G. Hawke, ed. and trans. 8 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908-1927), vol. 6 (1916) p. 135, no. 201.

Bredius, Abraham. Künstler-Inventare: Urkunden zur Geschichte der Holländischen Kunst des XVIten, XVIIten und XVIIIten Jahrhunderts. 8 vols. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1918), vol. 5 p. 1613.

Coppier, André-Charles. Rembrandt (Paris: Librarie Félix Alcan, 1920) p. 41.

Manson, James B. Rembrandt, 1607-1669 (New York: Funk & Wagnalls,1923) p. 59.

Meldrum, D.S. Rembrandt's Paintings (London: Methuen and Co., 1923) p. 182, no. 60, pl. 60.

Boulenger, Marcel. Le Duc de Morny, prince français (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1925) p. 182.

Bredius, Abraham, ed. The Paintings of Rembrandt (Vienna: Phaidon, 1936) p. 31, no. 464, ill.

Bredius, Abraham, ed. The Paintings of Rembrandt (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1936) p. 19, no. 464, ill.

McCall, George Henry. Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800, exh. cat. William R. Valentiner, ed. (New York: World's Fair, 1939) p. 144, no. 295.

Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt. 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949), vol. 1 pp. 160, 246.

Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt. 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949), vol. 2 unpaginated, pl. 13.

A Loan Exhibition of Rembrandt, exh. cat. (New York: Wildenstein & Company, 1950) p. 17, no. 7, pl. 5.

Knuttel Wzn, Gerhardus. Rembrandt: De Meester en zijn Werk (Amsterdam: Ploegsma, 1956) pp. 98, 278.

Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt: Life and Work (London: Phaidon Press, 1964) p. 15, fig. 12.

The Age of Rembrandt, exh. cat. (San Francisco: California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1966) p. 69, no. 33, ill.

Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1966) p. 7, no. 100, ill.

Gerson, Horst. Rembrandt Paintings. Heinz Norden, trans. (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff International, 1968) pp. 375, 591, no. 464, ill.

Arpino, Giovanni, and Paolo Lecaldano. L'Opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt (Milan: Rizzoli, 1969) p. 97, no. 69, ill.

Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. 3rd ed. Horst Gerson, ed. (London: Phaidon, 1969) pp. 375, 591, no. 464, ill.

Coolhaas, W. Ph. Het huis 'De Dubbele arend': Het huis Keizersgracht 141, thans 'Van Riebeeckhuis' genaamd (Amsterdam: Vereeniging 'Zuid-Afrikanische Stichting Moederland,' 1973) p. 58, no. 27.

Groot, Cornelis Hofstede de. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Edward G. Hawke, ed. and trans. 8 vols. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908-1927), repr. vols. 5-8 (Teaneck: Somerset House, 1976) vol. 6, p. 135, no. 201.

Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: His Life, his Paintings (New York: Viking, 1985) pp. 123-25, fig. 116.

Bruyn, Josua, et al. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings. 5 vols. (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1986), vol. 2 pp. 145-50, no. A47, ill.

Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt (Brussels: Albin Michel, 1986) pp. 173, 178, 400, no. 95, ill.

Schneider, Cynthia P. Rembrandt's Landscapes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990) pp. 1, 13, 18, 21, figs. 7-8, 228nn23-25.

Bal, Mieke. Reading "Rembrandt": Beyond the Word-Image Opposition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) p. 64

Slatkes, Leonard J. Rembrandt: Catalogo completo dei dipinti (Florence: Cantini, 1992) pp. 160-1, no. 87, ill.

Brown, Christopher, Jan Kelch, and Pieter van Thiel. Rembrandt: The Master and his Workshop, exh. cat. 2 vols. (Berlin: Gemäldegalerie SMPK at the Altes Museum, 1991), vol. 1 pp. 167-8, under no. 16, entry by Pieter van Thiel.

Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt: All Paintings in Colour (Antwerp: Fonds Mercator, 1993) pp. 173, 178, 403, no. 95, ill.

Rouart, Jean-Marie. Morny: Un voluptueux au pouvoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1995) p. 189.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995) unpaginated, no. 23, ill., entry by Denise Allen.

Liedtke, Walter. Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship. 2 vols. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995), vol. 2 p. 15, fig. 16.

"Recent Museum Acquisitions." In Historians of Netherlandish Art Newsletter 12 (April 1995) p. 15, ill.

"Acquisitions/1995." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 24 (1996) p. 112, no. 42, ill.

Grohé, Stefan. Rembrandts mythologische Historien (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 1996) pp. 74-101, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 103, ill.

Blankert, Albert, ed. Rembrandt: A Genius and his Impact, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1997) pp. 188-90, under no. 29, fig. 29a.

Gribbon, Deborah. "Selected Acquisitions Made by the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995-97." The Burlington Magazine 139, no. 1136 (November 1997) p. 827, fig. 17.

Fredericksen, Burton B. et al. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Paintings (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) pp. 56- 57, no. 30, ill., entry by Denise Allen.

Walsh, John, and Deborah Gribbon. The J. Paul Getty Museum and Its Collections: A Museum for the New Century (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) pp. 108, 122, ill.

Kiers, Judikje, and Fieke Tissink. The Golden Age of Dutch Art: Painting, Sculpture, Decorative Art, exh. cat. Bart Cornelis and Jan Piet Filedt Kok, eds. (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, with Thames & Hudson, 2000) pp. 82, 86, 338, no. 53, ill.

Wright, Christopher. Rembrandt (Paris: Citadelles & Mazenod, 2000) pp. 58-59, fig. 43.

Mallalieu, Huon. "The Rijksmuseum's Golden Age." Country Life (April 27, 2000) p. 103.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001) p. 118, ill.

Lloyd Williams, Julia, et al. Rembrandt's Women, exh. cat. (Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland, 2001) p. 90, under no. 20, 253n2, fig. 89.

Il Mito di Europa: Da fanciulla rapita a continente, exh. cat. (Florence: Galleria degli Uffizi, with Giunti, 2002) p. 9, ill.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003) pp. 52-53, no. 27, ill., entry by Denise Allen.

Golahny, Amy. Rembrandt's Reading: The Artist's Bookshelf of Ancient Poetry and History (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2003) p. 108-9, fig. 23, pl. 2.

Quodbach, Esmée. "'Rembrandt's 'Gilder' is Here': How America got its first Rembrandt and France lost many of its Old Masters." Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 31, nos. 1-2 (2004-2005) pp. 95, 97, fig. 6.

Straten, Roelof van. Young Rembrandt: The Leiden Years, 1606-1632 (Leiden: Foleor Publishers, 2005) pp. 228-29, no. 408.

Vogelaar, Christiaan and Gerbrand Korevaar. Rembrandt's Mother: Myth and Reality, exh. cat. (Leiden: Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, with Waanders Publishers, 2005) p. 221, under no. 71.

Christie's, New York. Important Old Master Paintings, Part I. April 6, 2006 p. 17, fig. 5.

Schwartz, Gary. The Rembrandt Book (New York: Abrams, 2006) p. 230, fig. 381.

Lammerste, Friso and Jaap van der Veen. Uylenburgh & Son: Art and Commerce from Rembrandt to De Lairesse 1625-1675, exh. cat. (Zwolle, Waanders Publishers, The Rembrandthouse Museum, 2006) p. 172-3, fig. 125.

Schneider, Cynthia P. "Wo Ausnahmen die Regel bestätigen: Rembrandts landschaften." In Rembrandts Landschaften, exh. cat. Christiaan Vogelaar and Gregor J.M. Weber, eds. (Kassel: Staatliche Museen Kassel, with Hirmer Verlag, 2006) pp. 12, 14-16, fig. 2.

Neidhardt, Uta and Thomas Ketelsen, eds. Rembrandt van Rijn: Die Entführung des Ganymed, exh. cat. (Dresden: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2006) pp. 11-12, figs. 4c, 5.

Laneyrie-Dagen, Nadeije. Lire la Peinture de Rembrandt (Paris: Larousse, 2006) pp. 40-41, ill.

Sluijter, Eric Jan. Rembrandt and the Female Nude (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006) pp. 108, 386n46.

Bomford, David, et al. Rembrandt (London: National Gallery Company Limited, 2006) pp. 84, 88n8.

Heffernan, Michael. "Capturing Europa: Images, Narratives, Maps." In The European Geographical Imagination. Hans Gebhardt and Peter Meusburger, eds. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007) pp. 19-21, fig. 3.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 114, ill.

Marandet, François. "Joseph Christophe (1662-1748), peintre de genre et peintre d'histoire." La revue des musées de France, Revue du Louvre (October 4, 2008) pp. 81-2, fig. 6.

Vergara, Alejandro, ed. Rembrandt: Pintor de Historias, exh. cat. (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008) pp. 29, 58, 123-25, no. 10, ill., entry by Alejandro Vergara.

Woollett, Anne T. Rembrandt in Southern California (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009) pp. 3, 14-15, no. 4, 38, ill.

Ripps, Michael J. "Bond Street Picture Dealers and the International Trade in Dutch Old Masters, 1882-1914." Ph.D. diss (University of Oxford, 2010) pp. 63-65.

Keyes, George S. "Rembrandt Paintings and America." In Rembrandt in America: Collecting and Connoisseurship, exh. cat. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, with Skira Rizzoli, 2011) p. 82.

Weller, Dennis P. "Rembrandt's History Paintings in America." In Rembrandt in America: Collecting and Connoisseurship, exh. cat. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, with Skira Rizzoli, 2011) pp. 149, 165, fig. 82.

Bakker, Boudewijn. Landscape and Religion from Van Eyck to Rembrandt. Diane Webb, trans. (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012) pp. viii, 277, fig. 63, pl. 26.

Ziskin, Rochelle. Sheltering Art: Collecting and Social Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012) pp. 51, 241, 284n80.

Wetering, Ernst van de, and Carin van Nes. A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings: Rembrandt's Paintings Revisited - A Complete Survey. Murray Pearson, ed. and trans. 6 vols. (Dordrecht: Springer, 1982-2015), vol. 6 (2015) pp. 69, 109, 506, 530, 571, no. 50, ill.

Education Resources

Education Resource




Gods, Heroes and Monsters Curriculum

Background information about Greek and Roman Mythology to accompany the curriculum “Gods, Heroes and Monsters.”

Painting Europa

Lesson in which students compare and contrast two depictions of the myth of the abduction of Europa, and study related literary and artistic devices.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Three/Five-Part Lesson

Dramatizing Europa

Lesson in which students observe The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt. They choose a character in the painting and perform a tableau vivant.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Two-Part Lesson

Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa (Descriptions)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Mandarin (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - English (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Korean (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Japanese (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Portuguese (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Spanish (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - French (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - German (Highlights)
  • /
    Audio: Abduction of Europa - Italian (Highlights)