The J. Paul Getty Museum

Coast View with the Abduction of Europa

Object Details


Coast View with the Abduction of Europa


Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, 1604/1605? - 1682)




Rome, Italy (Place Created)


1645 ?


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



96.2 × 167.6 cm (37 7/8 × 66 in.)

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Object Description

The maiden Europa rests atop a white bull, unaware it is the god Jupiter in disguise. According to the tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses, soon the animal will abduct her across the waves. Until then, she and her attendants festoon the seemingly innocent beast with flowers, while her blue drapery flutters in the breeze. In the upper right corner, a hazy poetic light illuminates her home city of Tyre, further evoking an idyllic antique world.

Claude Lorrain is known for painting complicated images that achieve a tranquil balance. This scene appears bucolic, but his composition and details also hint of impending danger. Beyond the field of delicate flowers, for example, a craggy tower looms. The women fail to notice that the bull is poised in anticipation, already straightening one of his legs for flight. Whitecaps gather behind them on the darkening sea, the backdrop to Europa's fate.

Even in his day, Claude was known for developing a style called the Ideal Landscape, in which nature on the canvas surpasses the real thing in its beauty, harmony, and refinement. Here he balances formal elements, like the upright trees, ship, and towers, against the open expanse of sea and sky. Offshore, he juxtaposes the huge galleon and all its impeccable detail in the rigging and carved decoration, with Europa still on land. The maritime theme also had a deeper resonance for Claude's contemporaries, as in art criticism, the abduction of Europa was compared to a ship leaving shore.

French by birth, and working in Rome, Claude often went into the countryside to do studies of nature. One of his hallmarks is the use of a unifying light, which gives this work a kind of gentle glow. The romance is punctuated by long shadows coming in from the left, distinctive of his favorite afternoon light, which help frame the drama at center stage.

about 1645

Private Collection (Paris, France)
Source: "Tableaux faict pour paris," Liber Veritatis, no. 111

by 1771

Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2364, L.3016a), British, 1723 - 1792 (London, England)


Probably Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington, 1752 - 1838, by inheritance to his son, Robert John (Smith) Carrington, by 1842.

by 1842

Robert John (Smith) Carrington, 2nd baron Carrington, British, 1796 - 1868 (Wycombe Abbey, Buckinghamshire, England), by inheritance within the family.
Source: John Smith. Supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-42), vol. 9 (1842), p. 807, no. 13.

- 1930

Rupert Clement George Carington, 4th Baron Carrington, 1852 - 1929 [upon his death, sold, Christie's, London, May 9, 1930, lot 14 (1250 gns.) to Jacques Goudstikker.]

1930 - 1940

Jacques Goudstikker, 1897 - 1940 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), looted by the Nazis, under the direction of Hermann Göring, around May 1940. With Göring on July 13, 1940.
Source: Amsterdam Gemeentearchief, Archive of Jacques Goudstikker and Desi Goudstikker-Halban, inventory no. 1341, file no. 38, p. 124 (A11078000078), no. 2563,
Note: Jacques Goudstikker made an inventory of his collection in preparation for a possible German invasion of the Netherlands and carried it with him when he fled his country in 1940. This bound, black notebook is referred to as his "Blackbook" or the Goudstikker notebook and allowed for the restitution of some of his artworks to his heirs after the war.

1940 - 1945

In the possession of Hermann Göring, 1893 - 1946, recovered by the Allies, 1945.
Source: Deutsche Historiches Museum, Munich Central Collecting Point database, Munich (Mü) no. 5304 / B'Gaden (Berchtesgaden) 259.


In the custody of The State of the Netherlands (Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, The Hague), inv. no. NK 1431.

1975 - 1985
1985 - 1997
1997 - 2006

Institute Collectie Amsterdam, inv. no. NK 1431, on loan to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam until 2006. Restituted to Marei von Saher, February 6, 2006.
Source: List of paintings restituted by the Netherlands to Marei von Saher in 2006 and 2007 in Pieter den Hollander. Roofkunst: De Zaak Goudstikker (Amsterdam: J. M. Meulenhoff, 2007), p. 361, no. 10.

2006 - 2007

Marei von Saher (London, England), sold through Simon C. Dickinson, Ltd. to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007.

Nouvelles Acquisitions de la Collection Goudstikker (November 8, 1930 to January 3, 1931)
  • Goudstikker Gallery (Amsterdam), November 8 to December 13, 1930
  • Rotterdamschen Kunstkring (Rotterdam), December 20, 1930 to January 3, 1931
Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst uit he bezit van den internationalen Handel (July 1 to September 30, 1936) (p. 25, no. 99.)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), July 1 to September 30, 1936
Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en Antiquiteiten geexposeerd door den Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker N.V. Amsterdam (December 17, 1936 to January 10, 1937)
  • Rotterdamschen Kunstkring (Rotterdam), December 17, 1936 to January 10, 1937
Nederlandse 17e eeuwse italianiserende landscapschilders (March 10 to May 30, 1965)
  • Centraal Museum (Utrecht), March 10 to May 30, 1965
Herrineringen aan Italië: Kunst en toerisme in de 18de eeuw (May 19 to November 25, 1984)
  • Noordbrabants Museum ('s-Hertogenbosch), May 19 to July 22, 1984
  • Provincie Overijssel, Kasteel 't Nijenhuis (bij Heino), August 4 to September 30, 1984
  • Frans Hals Museum (Haarlem), October 13 to November 25, 1984
Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française des musées néerlandais, XVIIe - XVIIIe siècles (September 5, 1992 to March 7, 1993)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, September 5 to October 25, 1992
  • Institut Néerlandais (Paris), October 30 to December 20, 1992
Claude Lorrain and the Ideal Landscape (September 15 to December 6, 1998)
  • National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo), September 15 to December 6, 1998
Claude Lorrain et le monde des dieux (May 11 to August 20, 2001)
  • musée départemental d'art ancien et contemporain (Epinal), May 11 to August 20, 2001

Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-42), vol. 8 (1837), p. 250, no. 111.

Smith, John. Supplement to the Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters [...]. 9 vols. (London: Smith and Son, 1829-42), vol. 9 (1842), p. 807, no. 13.

Carter, A. C. R. "Picture Sales of 1929-30." Christie's Season (1930), pp. xxxiii, 44, lot. 14, ill.

Menzies, W. G. "Art in the Saleroom." Apollo 11 (January-June 1930), pp. 402, 404, ill.

"The Sale Room: Carrington Heirlooms." The Times [London], May 10, 1930, p. 9.

Catalogue des Nouvelles Acquisitions de Collection Goudstikker, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Goudstikker, 1930), no. 37, ill.

Christie's, London. Catalogue of The Carrington Heirloom Pictures. May 9, 1930, pp. 4-5, lot 14, ill.

"Paris Notes." The Art News (August 15, 1936), p. 14, ill.

Catalogus van de tentoonstelling van oude kunst uit het bezit van den internationalen handel, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 1936), p. 25, no. 99.

Catalogus der Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en Antiquiteiten geexposeerd door den Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker N.V., exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Rotterdamschen Kunstkring, 1936-37), p. 14, no. 33, ill.

Röthlisberger, Marcel. Claude Lorrain: The Paintings. 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961; repr., New York: Hacker, 1979), vol. 1, pp. 276-77, no. LV 111; vol. 2, fig. 193.

Röthlisberger, Marcel. "Ein Nachtrag zu Claude." Pantheon 20 (1962), pp. 168-70, fig. 4.

Nederlandse 17e eeuwse italianiserende landschapschilders, exh. cat. (Utrecht: Centraal Museum, 1965), p. 252, no. 173.

Röthlisberger, Marcel. Claude Lorrain: The Drawings. 2 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968), vol. 1, pp. 248-49, under nos. 640-41.

Kitson, Michael. "Claude's Earliest 'Coast Scene with the Rape of Europa.'" Burlington Magazine 105, no. 849 (December 1973), p. 779.

Röthlisberger, Marcel, et al. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Claude Lorrain. Claude Lauriol, trans. (Paris: Flammarion, 1977), pp. 108-9, no. 176, pl. 33.

Adhémar, Jean, ed. Collections de Louis XIV: Dessins, albums, manuscrits, exh. cat. (Paris: Éditions des musées nationaux, 1977), p. 183, under no. 166.

Kitson, Michael. Claude Lorrain: Liber veritatis (London: British Museum Publications, 1978), pp. 120-21, under no. 111.

Leeuw, Ronald de, ed. Herinneringen aan Italië: Kunst en toerisme in de 18de eeuw, exh. cat. (Zwolle: Waanders, 1984), p. 130, no. 45, entry by Hans Brand.

Broun, Francis. "Sir Joshua Reynolds' Collection of Paintings." 2 vols. Ph.D. diss. (Princeton University, 1987), vol. 1, pp. 138, 149, 153, pl. 50; vol. 2, pp. 191-92.

Rosenberg, Pierre, Guido Jansen, and Jeroen Giltaij, eds. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française des musées néerlandais, XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles: French Paintings from Dutch Collections, 1600-1800, exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Museum Boymans Van Beuningen, 1992), pp. 150-52, no. 32, ill.

Old Master Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue (Zwolle: Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, with Waanders, 1992), p. 104, no. 787, ill.

Bailey, Colin. Review of French Paintings from Dutch Collections. Dijon, Paris, Rotterdam. Burlington Magazine 134, no. 1077 (December 1992), pp. 832-33, fig. 86.

Kofuku, Akira, ed. Claude Lorrain and the Ideal Landscape, exh. cat. (Tokyo: Kokuritsu Seiyo Bijutsukan, 1998), p. 85, no. 45, ill.

Hollander, Pieter den. De Zaak Goudstikker (Amsterdam: J. M. Meulenhoff, 1998), p. 249, ill.

Boyer, Jean-Claude, ed. Claude le Lorrain et le monde des dieux, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001), pp. 64-67, no. 8, ill.

Pace, Claire. "'The Golden Age... The First Days and the Last Days of Mankind': Claude Lorrain and the Classical Pastoral, with Special Emphasis on Themes from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses.'" Artibus et historiae 23, no. 46 (2002), p. 155n148.

Beenker, Erik. The Collection: Old Master Paintings and Sculptures, Drawings and Prints, Modern Art, Applied Art and Design (Rotterdam: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2005), p. 94, ill.

Loisel, Catherine, and Varena Forcione, eds. The King's Drawings from the Musée du Louvre, exh. cat. (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2006), pp. 66-67, fig. 21, under no. 33.

Hollander, Pieter den. Roofkunst: De Zaak Goudstikker (Amsterdam: J. M. Meulenhoff, 2007), p. 361, no. 10, ill.

Sutton, Peter C., et al., eds. Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker, exh. cat. (Greenwich: Bruce Museum, with Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 234-39, no. 34, ill., entry by Anne T. Woollett, with biographical note by Abigail D. Newman.

Yeide, Nancy H. Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection (Dallas: Laurel Publishing, 2009), pp. 56, 259, no. A239, ill.

Tuyll van Serooskerken, Carel van, and Michiel C. Plomp, eds. Claude Gellée, dit le Lorrain: Le dessinateur face à la nature, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre, with Somogy éditions d'art, 2011), p. 208, under no. 64, fig. 37, entry by Carel van Tuyll van Serooskerken.

Tuyll van Serooskerken, Carel van, and Michiel C. Plomp, eds. Claude Lorrain, exh. cat. (Haarlem: Teylers Museum, with W Books, 2011), pp. 204-5, under no. 63, fig. 85.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 431.

Dreyfus, Jean-Marc. Le Catalogue Goering (Paris: Flammarion, with Les Archives Diplomatiques, 2015), p. 172, no. RM237.

Allan, Scott, Davide Gasparotto, Peter Björn Kerber, and Anne T. Woollett. Masterpieces of Painting: J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018), pp. 11, 73, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




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