Rape of Europa

Rape of Europa
signed and numbered 'Botero E/A 1/2' (on the lower right of the right base)
100 x 102 x 52 cm. (39 3/8 x 40 1/8 x 20 ½ in.)
Executed in 2006
edition E/A 1/2
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
David Benrimon Fine Art, Fernando Botero: Works on Paper, Paintings and Sculpture, New York, USA, 2008, no. 12 (illustrated in color, p. 101).

Brought to you by

Kimmy Lau
Kimmy Lau

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

A master of many mediums, Fernando Botero has reveled in the tactile pleasure of creating sculptures since the 1970s. Perhaps more so than painting or drawing, sculpture has afforded Botero a means of fully exploiting volume and form in his work, advancing his signature style of intentionally inflated figures.

A quintessential example of the artist’s internationally recognized rotund figures, the present lot takes on the subject of the Rape of Europa, the Greek myth frequently depicted by Italian Renaissance masters, whose work Botero closely studied while a young aspiring artist traveling in Europe in the 1950s. Popular among Venetian cinquecentto artists, the Rape of Europa is a sensational tale of love and desire. Zeus, king of the gods, became enamored with the mortal maiden Europa. Determined to possess her, Zeus transformed himself into a bull and joined the herd of Europa’s father. Attracted to the affectionate behavior of the gentle bull, Europa caressed and eventually mounted the beast. Zeus immediately seized the opportunity to abduct the young Europa, dragging her cross
the sea and finally to the island of Crete where he revealed his true identity and ravished her.

Often portrayed in art at the narrative’s climactic moment, Europa frequently appears as a writhing damsel in distress clinging to the powerful bolting bull. Renaissance master Titian, for example, captured the drama of the escape with a strong sliding diagonal composition, blurred brushstrokes, swirling drapery and flailing female figure. By contrast, Botero departs from these theatrics in his sculpture, choosing instead to depict a composed Europa on a motionless mount. Botero’s young woman hardly seems a victim of an aggressive abduction as she gracefully balances on the back of the bull, casually posing with one hand behind her head and the other draped across her chest. Flaunting her ample figure, she appears more as an exhibitionist confronting the viewer with her striking nakedness. Dwarfed by his rider’s fleshy excess, the virile bull here becomes a diminutive beast of burden. In this modern twist on the ancient myth, Botero enacts a reversal of roles in which the young maiden dominates the king of the gods who parades around his beloved for the enjoyment of others but never his own.

More from 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

View All
View All