The Rape of Europa by Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley

Explore the background behind Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley’s nine minute film response to Titian’s Rape of Europa.

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The myth of The Rape of Europa is a foundational legend. In Greek-Roman mythology, Europa is abducted by the King of the gods in the form of a bull. He carries her from her Phoenician homeland to the island of Crete, where he rapes her and she subsequently gives birth to twins. Her children become the founders of European civilization.  

Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley looking at Titian's Rape of Europa.

Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelly in front of Titian’s Rape of Europa, 1559–1562, in the Conservation Lab of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2020

Artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, who were commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to respond to Titian’s painting The Rape of Europa, chose to explore the implicit violence in the story. In their nine minute film, their reinterpretation of Europa’s story allegorically embodies the entire history of European domination, conquests, violence, and plunder.

Listen to Mary Reid Kelley speak about the paradox implicit in the founding of European civilization.

(3 minutes )

Mary Reid Kelley

Visit Mary Reid Kelly and Patrick Kelley’s Rape of Europa in the Fenway Gallery through January 2, 2022.

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Titian: Women, Myth & Power