The Rape of Europa: The Intriguing History of Titian's Masterpiece

Charles FitzRoy


The Rape of Europa is a completely novel popular history of art book centering on one of Titian's most celebrated masterpieces. By telling the history of this painting from its origin to the present day, Charles FitzRoy includes fascinating accounts of King Philip II of Spain and how his art collecting reveals a dichotomy at its heart. The painting itself is an extremely erotic description of the famous classical myth based on the account in Ovid's Metamorphoses. It was commissioned as a wedding present for Charles I and his French queen Henrietta Maria, and was later copied by Rubens and exerted a strong influence on Velázquez. In the eighteenth century the painting was given by the King of Spain to the Duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XV. Orleans was the greatest art collector of his day, using the brilliant connoisseur and dealer Pierre Crozat as his agent. At this stage the story becomes one of skullduggery.

The Rape of Europa painting is the most celebrated example of how rich Americans managed to purchase works of art from British collections and how Bernard Berenson made a huge fortune out of authenticating paintings for rich patrons, always purely for profit. This thrilling book is part art history and part detective story, and is an entirely original way of telling a story.

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