The Rape of Europa: The Intriguing History of Titian’s Masterpiece
Art historians try to follow the life of a famous Old Master painting. Examining how it went from collector to collector, and what that says about the value that these paintings have; while at the same time using the transfer to examine how the socio-political ways changed over time. None represent this more than Titian’s Rape of Europa. Originally painted for the Spanish monarch back in the 1500s, it went through a large collection of owners, dealers, and art agents, finally settling down in the United States in the late 19th Century in the collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner, and eventually, into the museum that she established. This book explores the history of the painting, while at the same time examining the circumstances of the countries it live in at various times (Spain, France, England, the United States). And how following paintings like this, we can get to see the rise and fall of different large empires, and growing governments and prosperity.
The book is not perfect. Towards the latter half, it gets bogged down in names and titles, especially the English peer titles. Also it spends a lot of time going over the major events, for example of the French Revolution, that you almost forget this is a book about a painting.