Jacques Lipchitz

The Rape of Europa


Not on display

Jacques Lipchitz 1891–1973
Original title
L'Enlèvement d'Europe
Object: 410 × 601 × 337 mm checked
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982

Catalogue entry

T03483 The Rape of Europa 1938

Painted plaster 16 × 23 1/2 × 13 1/4 (407 × 597 × 337)
Not inscribed
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Lipchitz 1972, p.140

A bronze cast of this sculpture was included in Lipchitz's retrospective exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, Paris, in 1946 (66 or 67, repr.). There is another version the same size as this and almost identical, the plaster of which is in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo 1972, repr., n.p.) and Lipchitz mentions a third version of this date in his autobiography.

He took up the subject again in America in 1941, but with the underlying theme of Europa killing the bull Hitler, which is not implied in the 1938 versions.

... I also made three small sculptures of the ‘Rape of Europa’. The latter derived from my continually increasing interest in classic myth, and also it had a personal association. All of my sculpture derives from something in my life, a desire or a dream. In the bull who carries off Europa and swims with her to Crete, the appendages at the back suggest a fishlike form. In my collection there is an extremely rare bronze Coptic piece in which the bull takes on different aquatic shapes. I think that I may have been influenced by this. The general forms of the bull and Europa probably derive from the earlier bull and condor, although, as is so frequently the case with my sculpture, the conflict and terror of the earlier version is here transformed into erotic love. I used the theme of the ‘Rape of Europa’ later in a quite different context, the Europa as a symbol for Europe and the bull as Hitler, with Europe killing Hitler with a dagger. This reverses the concept to one of terror, whereas in the original sculptures of Europa the entire theme is tender and erotic love; the bull is caressing Europa with his tongue (Lipchitz, loc.cit.).

The plaster was painted at the Modern Art Foundry at New York, in a dark colour to match the black patina of the bronze. The plaster base was probably cast at a later date to the original plaster of 1938, and added to it.

[For T03397 and T03479 to T03534 the foundry inscriptions, and reproductions of casts in other materials in the books listed below, are recorded. Abbreviations used:

Arnason 1969 H.H. Arnason, Jacques Lipchitz: Sketches in Bronze, 1969

Lipchitz 1972 Jacques Lipchitz, My Life in Sculpture, 1972

Stott 1975 Deborah A. Stott, Jacques Lipchitz and Cubism, 1975 (reprinted 1978)

Otterlo 1977 A.M. Hammacher, Lipchitz in Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, 1977

Centre Pompidou 1978 Nicole Barbier, Lipchitz: oeuvres de Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973) dans les collections du Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1978

Arizona 1982 Jacques Lipchitz. Sketches and Models in the collection of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona. Introduction and catalogue by Peter Bermingham, 1982]

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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