Caesar Boetius van Everdingen

The Abduction of Europa

c. 1650
Zeus disguised himself as a bull in order to abduct Europa, princess of Tyre. She plays with the animal as her maids sit on the shore, watching. The scene is calm, almost static: here Van Everdingen has captured the moment before the bull carries Europa off across the water. Flesh and cloth, and not emotion or action, interest the artist. Evenly washed by the clean, cold light, the scene seems strangely unreal. Van Everdingen’s work is one strand of contemporary painting in the Netherlands. With changes in taste, it is now less familiar to us than the work of artists who chose local subjects - landscapes or scenes of daily life - and whose art was seen as being true to nature and uniquely Dutch.

– 1709
The artist (d. 1678), Alkmar, Netherlands; his brother Allart van Everdingen (d. 1675), Alkmar, Netherlands by inheritance; his widow Janneke Cornelisdr Brouwers (d.1709), Amsterdam, Netherlands by inheritance [1]

– 1791
Unknown collection, Netherlands [2]

Unknown dealer, New York, USA [3]

by 1935 –
Dr. Siegfried Aram, Detroit, MI; New York, USA [4]

– by 1954
Central Pictures Gallery, New York

1954 – 1989
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York, purchased from Central Pictures Gallery [5]

1989 – 1998
Federal Construction Inc., Montréal, Canada, purchased at auction “The Estate of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.: Old Master and 19th Century Paintings”, Sotheby's, New York, June 1, 1989, lot 56 [6]

1998 –

National Gallery of Canada, gift of Federal Construction Inc, Montréal, Canada [7]

[1] The inventory of the estate of Caesar van Everdingen includes three possible matches for this painting: “Some sea-goddesses”, “Some of the same”, “Some sea-gods.” (Post mortem inventory dated after October 13, 1678.) According to Paul Huys a handwritten note indicated that Allart van Everdingen obtained the three works (presumably through inheritance?). What may be the NGC work is next recorded in the “sale of the estate of Janneke Cornelisdr Brouwers … [Allart van Everdingen's widow] Amsterdam 19 April 1709, no.46 (as “Europa by the same” [= Caesar van Everdingen.]) [Information taken from Paul Huys Janssen, Caesar van Everdingen, 1616/17 – 1678: Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné. (Np, 2002), pp.114-5.]

[2] A Catalogue of a Collection of Capital and Beautiful Cabinet Pictures, Lately Imported from Holland…Which will be Sold by Auction, by Mr. Greenwood, At his Room in Leicester-Square…” London, April 15, 1791, lot 14, “Two naked figures, viewing, from a sea strand, the rape of Europa” by C. Everdingen. The identification is speculative: the description does not precisely match the painting; other possible candidates are listed in note [1] above.

[3] See note [4] below.

[4] A letter of Dr. Siegfried Aram to Helen White of the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA refers to the loan of the painting, now in his possession, to the museum. He notes that it had earlier been altered by “unscrupelous [!] restorers hands, on instructions from a New York Dealer who formerly owned the picture” [Letter dated January 26, 1935, archives of Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; photocopy in NGC curatorial files]. The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, CA, does not have any records of when the loan ended [email from Stephen Lockwood, Senior Museum Registrar, November 15, 2007, NGC curatorial files].

[5] See provenance in “The Estate of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.: Old Master and 19th Century Paintings”, Sotheby's, New York, June 1, 1989, lot 56.

[6] Purchased by Bruno Meissner, Zurich, Switzerland, acting on behalf of Federal Construction Inc. [See “Description of Cultural Property”, section 4 of Application for Certification of Cultural Property prefaced by a letter of Shirley Proulx to Marc Bédard, December 14, 1998. NGC curatorial files]

[7] Legal date for acquisition December 7, 1998.

Signed with his monogram “CVE”

The Abduction of Europa
c. 1650
oil on canvas
118.1 x 151.1 cm
Credit line
Gift of Federal Construction Inc., Montreal, 1998
Accession number