Carl Milles

Europa and the Bull


Not on display

Carl Milles 1875–1955
Object: 781 × 667 × 330 mm
Purchased 1927

Display caption

Carl Milles was the first non-British artist to be given an exhibition at the Tate Gallery. Milles was a Swedish-born sculptor who was best known in his day for public sculpture and large monuments. His traditional subject matter and classical style seem barely touched by the radical developments in modern sculpture which were happening around him. It may be for this reason that he was considered a suitable, if conservative, choice for an exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1927. Europa and the Bull was on display in this exhibition and was bought by the gallery soon afterwards (see archive records in display case).

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Carl Milles 1875-1955

N04247 Europa and the Bull 1923-4

Not inscribed
Bronze, 30 3/4 x 26 1/4 x 13 (78 x 66.5 x 33)
Purchased from the artist (Duveen Drawings Fund, with the consent of Edward Duveen) 1927
Exh: Sketches and Fragments of Monuments executed in Cities in Sweden by Carl Milles, Tate Gallery, February-April 1927 (3); RSA, Edinburgh, April-July 1948 (76)
Lit: M.P.-Verneuil, Carl Milles: Sculpteur Suédois (Paris-Brussels 1929), Vol.1, pp.54-5, Vol.2, note on pls.32-3, repr. pls.32 and 33, dated 1923-4; Stanley Casson, XXth Century Sculptors (Oxford-London 1930), p.39, repr. fig.4 (two views); Meyric R. Rogers, Carl Milles: an Interpretation of his Work (New Haven-London 1940), pp.24-5, 52

A model for the central group of a fountain erected on the market square in Halmstad, Sweden, in 1926. (The full-size group is 2.70 metres high). The group depicts the rape of Europa by Zeus, who came to her in the form of a white bull and carried her out to sea on his back; the bull is seen here entering the water.

This sculpture was exhibited at the Tate in 1927 as 'first model' for the large-scale group and dated 1924. Although it is described by Verneuil, op. cit., as a 'reduction', the sculptor Axel Wallenberg, who was a friend and pupil of Milles' and is now Curator of the Millesgården at Lidingö, confirms that it was definitely the first model for the large Europa. It corresponds very closely to the final group except that the latter is slightly more ornate, with decorative tufts of hair at the base of the horns, folds of flesh forming a pattern around the mouth and nostrils, and a few other minor differences of detail.

According to Verneuil, five further casts were in 1929 in the Konstmuseet at Gothenburg, in the collections of Dr Widmer, Valmont (Switzerland), Hunter Crawford, Liverpool, and Mrs Coyet, Turup (Sweden), and in the artist's possession at Lidingö. The Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., acquired a cast later in 1929 (possibly the one listed by Verneuil as in the artist's possession) and was informed at the time that the size of the edition would be ten. One cast is now in the Millesgården, and there is a plaster in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

The Europa Fountain, which also includes figures of tritons facing diagonally outwards at the corners of the basin, was Milles' first large fountain commission.

Published in: Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.518-19, reproduced p.518

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