This composition derives from François Boucher's L'enlèvement d'Europe, currently in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. no. 2714). Both paintings depict the abduction of Europa by Jupiter, who, disguised as a white bull, seduces the princess to climb onto his back as he slips into the waves and drifts further out to sea. The subject is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Bk II:833-875), a Latin narrative poem written in the 1st century BC.