Formerly ascribed to Claudio Francesco Beaumont, this series of pictures has recently been recognised as the work of his rival in Turin - Giovanni Battista Crosato - and this attribution has been independently confirmed by Professor Ugo Ruggeri and Professor Sergio Marinelli, on the basis of photographs.
Born in Treviso, Crosato belonged to the generation of Venetian painters that included Amigoni, Sebastiano Ricci and Pellegrini, who developed a lighter and more painterly style. His reputation has grown in recent times with the reattribution to him of his most important commission - the decoration of the ballroom in the Ca' Rezzonico - which had for years been wrongly attributed to Jacopo Guarana. Trained in Venice and active there throughout his career, Crosato also achieved fame across the country in Piedmont. He first travelled to Turin in the early 1730s, possibly at the invitation of Filippo Juvarra, the Messinese architect who was building and organizing the decoration of the Palazzina di Caccia of Stupinigi, the hunting palace of the Duke of Savoy. Crosato's frescoes there established his career in Savoy and led to further commissions for fresco cycles in the Villa Regina and in the Palazzo Reale in Turin. He returned to Venice in 1736 before returning to Turin four years later to work on commissions for several churches including La Consolata and San Marco e Leonardo. He was in Venice from 1746 until his death.
The Rape of Europa from the present series closely relates to a variant of the subject in the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford (see R. Palluchini, La Pittura nel Veneto - Il Settecento, I, Milan, 1995, p. 137, fig. 199), and both refer to a third treatment, on panel, painted for the winter appartment in the Palazzo Reale. Professor Ruggeri considers these paintings to be mature works, comparable on stylistic grounds with the frescoes of scenes from the Life of Alexander the Great painted for the Villa Marcello in Levada in the late 1740s.