Claude Lorrain, the greatest artist of the classical school of European landscape painting, raised this previously secondary genre to a new level of sophistication and prestige. Characterized by the balanced arrangement of ideal landscape motifs and classical ruins, his works often introduce complementary mythological or pastoral elements that evoke a timeless, poetic world.
Claude left his native Lorraine as a young man and settled in Rome, where he remained for the rest of his career. This majestic and important work, painted for the French ambassador to Rome, Charles de Créquy, helped to establish him as the city’s most successful landscape painter. The story is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Jupiter has taken the form of a divinely beautiful snow-white bull and in this guise enticed the princess Europa onto his back. He edges toward the water, across which lies the isle of Crete, to which he will abduct her. Claude includes a ruin inspired by the ancient temple at Tivoli, which he had studied during frequent excursions to the Roman countryside. The enchanting atmosphere of the landscape depends on carefully modulated effects of light.
Painted for Charles de Blanchefort, maréchal de Créquy and duc de Lesdiguières, [1573-1638], France.
St. George Usher St. George, 1st baron St. George of Hatley St. George [c. 1715-1775], Headford, Galway, Ireland, around 1763-70;
by inheritance to his daughter, Emilia Olivia St. George and her husband, William Robert FitzGerald, 2nd duke of Leinster [1748/49-1804], Leinster House, Dublin, and Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
by inheritance to his son, Augustus Frederick FitzGerald, 3rd duke of Leinster [1791-1874], Leinster House, Dublin, and Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
by inheritance to his son, Charles William FitzGerald, 4th duke of Leinster [1819-1887], Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
by inheritance, to his son, Gerald FitzGerald, 5th duke of Leinster [1851-1893], Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
by inheritance, to his son, Maurice FitzGerald, 6th duke of Leinster [1887-1922], Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
by inheritance to his brother, Edward FitzGerald, 7th duke of Leinster, [1892-1976], Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland;
purchased, with Carton House, by Arthur Ronald Nall, 2nd baron Brocket [1904-1967], Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, England, and Carton House, Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland, 1949;
by inheritance to his grandson, Charles Ronald George Nall-Cain, 3rd baron Brocket [b. 1952], Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, England until 1974.
(Dr. Claus Virch with Art Associates Partnership, Bermuda, by 1975);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1981.