Oil on canvas.
Europa was the daughter of the Phoenician king of Tyre and his wife Telephassa. Europa liked spending time with her companions in the meadows where the royal herds grazed. The great Zeus himself noticed her, and in order to deceive his wife Hera and the king’s daughter, Zeus turned himself into a young white bull. The animal was very tame and quiet and instantly attracted beautiful Europa. Overcoming her fears, she fed him, caressed him, and after a while, mounted him. At first, Zeus walked slowly along the shore, but in an unguarded moment rushed straight out to sea. Europa was frightened and called to her companions, but before she could recover, they had reached the island of Crete. Here Zeus transformed back into his original divine form, and Europa later bore him three sons: Minos, who became the Cretan king; Sarpedon, who became king in Lycia; and Rhadamanthus, who became a member of the tribunal of the underworld. Later, by the will of Zeus, Europa married the Cretan king Asteria. The energetic painting style suggests that the work was made by a Venetian artist.