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"The Abduction of Europe" is a masterpiece created in 1910 by Serov Valentin Alexandrovich, a famous Russian painter. The painting was inspired by a trip to Greece by him in 1907. In particular, Serov was struck by the ruins of the Knossos palace.
The artist refers to a plot popular in ancient mythology about the abduction by Zeus of beautiful Europe. The girl was the daughter of the Phoenician ruler Agenor. The mighty Zeus falls in love with her and decides to abduct. To do this, he turns into a bull and in this guise appears in front of Europe and her friends. As soon as a girl, deceived by the animal’s peaceful behavior, climbs onto his back, the bull rushes into the sea and takes his beloved to the island of Crete. Europe becomes the wife of the Greek god, they have three sons.
This ancient legend has repeatedly inspired artists long before Serov. But his canvas is strikingly different from the creations of his predecessors. There is nothing from light colors, lightness and elegance of lines and marble transparency of academic canons. Serov’s painting most likely gives the impression of scale and monumentality.
An interesting composition of the painting "The Rape of Europe". All of it is based on diagonal movement. This creates the effect of intense movement and aspiration upward. The silhouettes of all the characters - girls, Zeus, the dolphin - are deliberately elongated diagonally. The skyline is very high. Most of the canvas space is reserved for the image of the sea, formidable, raging and restless.
In the center of the composition are a bull with Europe clinging to it in a fright. The movement of Zeus, powerfully dissecting the sea waves, repeats the dolphin, which only enhances the dynamics of the picture and gives it a special rhythmic pattern.
Unusual and color scheme of the work. Serov uses rich, vibrant colors. He departs from the ancient canons and makes the bull not snow-white, but orange-terracotta. Probably, the artist was inspired by the frescoes he saw on the island of Crete. This spot is especially bright against the background of blue-violet waves merging with the lead-gray sky.
Gustave Courbet's Funeral In Ornans