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Serov, Valentin Aleksandrovich
The rape of Europa

1910
oil on canvas
71 х 98

The rape of Europa is a popular theme in global art. The story is borrowed from Ancient Greek mythology. Europa is the daughter of Phoenician king Agenor. Having turned into a bull, the king of gods Zeus abducted beautiful Europa. The work is produced under the impression of the artist's trip to Greece. Serov turned to monuments of Crete-Mycenaean culture, introducing into the picture's imagery a vessel in the shape of a bull head from the smaller palace in Knossos on the island of Crete, fresco paintings from the Knossos palace with the motif of flying fish and other monuments of the archaic period. Serov draws a comparison between the academic image of antiquity and archaic Antiquity. A unique treatment is also evident in the interpretation of the theme: the rushing forward bull turns back against its will: the uncouth abductor of beauty has underrated her power. Serov's Europa, unlike the frightened heroines of works by old masters, is self-composed. She has a perfectly symmetrical face of Greek Persephone; she embodies the perfection triumphant. The bull's horns take on the shape of a lyre, whose invisible strings seem to give voice to the sky and the sea.

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