Lot 148
  • 148

FERNANDO BOTERO | Rape of Europa (Abduction of Europa)

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 USD
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  • Fernando Botero
  • Rape of Europa (Abduction of Europa)
  • incised with the artist's signature, number 2/3 and stamp Fonderia Mariani on the base
  • bronze
  • 124 by 83 by 72 in. 315 by 210.8 by 183 cm.
  • Executed in 1992, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3.


Marlborough Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998


New York, Park Avenue, Botero in New York, September - November 1993, p. 53, illustrated in color and illustrated in color on the cover 
Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, Botero in Chicago, May 1994, p. 5, illustrated in color 
Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Fernando Botero: Monumental Sculptures and Drawings, December 1994 - May 1995, p. 19, illustrated in color and illustrated in color on the cover 
Beverly Hills, Botero in 90210, November 1995 - January 1996 
Washington, D.C., Museum of the Americas, Botero in Washington, September - October 1996, p. 31, illustrated in color and illustrated in color on the cover


Jean-Clarence Lambert and Benjamín Villegas, Botero Sculptures, Bogotá 1998, cat. no. 130, illustrated in color 
Exh. Cat., Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Botero en Buenos Aires, 1994, p. 144, illustrated in color 


The sculpture is in good condition. It displays a dark brown patina that shows signs of gentle wear from its previous placement outdoors. The patina is rubbed in scattered locations throughout. The top of the base shows wear in the form of minor patina loss, fine scratches, several nicks and gouges in the bronze on the sides and an uneven surface coating. Several small fissures in the bronze can be seen on the surface, which are inherent to the cast. It is clean and has a protective wax coating. (This condition report has been prepared courtesy of Wilson Conservation, LLC)
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

"Monumentality is not a question of size. Truly monumental works conquer the space around them, they are eternal." Fernando Botero  Fernando Botero's monumental sculpture is cherished worldwide. Globally exhibited for over four decades, Botero's astonishing bronzes have graced the public squares of Latin American towns, idyllic European boulevards, and the main avenues of large metropolises on every continent. From Bogotá to Paris, New York to Hong Kong, Botero’s voluptuous and instantly recognizable characters have become ingrained in the public memory. Inescapable, his monumental sculpture has transcended its stationary nature to become integral to our understanding of these spaces. 

From the beginning of his artistic career over six decades ago, Botero has drawn inspiration from historical sources ranging from Roman and Greek classical sculpture to Renaissance and Baroque painting. Although historically grounded, his work can simultaneously portray everyday imagery; glimpses of human experience ranging from the intimate to the public, the personal to the political.

Among his most celebrated sculptural series is his homage to Titian’s (Tiziano Vecillio) Rape of Europa. Painted by the Italian artist sometime during the period of 1559 to 1562 for the King of Spain Phillip II, the work depicts a demure and vulnerable Europa flailing her arms and legs as she is suddenly carried away on Jupiter’s back. Disguised as an ornamented white bull, Jupiter's massive strength seems to confront the viewer while two playful Cupids entertain themselves flying carelessly in a turbulent sky. While a clear reference to Titian’s masterpiece, Botero’s interpretation of this historical subject is a keen embodiment of his approach to contemporary sculpture. Distilled to its primary actors, Botero portrays Jupiter as an amiable bull whose tender nature is diametrically opposed to Titian’s fierce treatment. Likewise, our Europa appears placidly and comfortably seated on this larger than life bull; her long hair creating a beautiful cascade on her nude body. Feminine and coquettish, she crosses her legs and raises her right arm behind her head in a flirting pose more closely resembling the unabashed attitude of a contemporary model than that of a frightened mythological princess. Botero’s Rape of Europa is unequivocally unsentimental. 

As with other historical imagery, Botero reveals a surprising alternative narrative: one where women have been purposely afforded control of their fates. No longer victimized, they reveal themselves as powerful participants rejoicing in their choices—whether situated in family kitchens, brothels or opera houses. Ultimately, Botero’s monumental sculptures are formal masterpieces of composed volume and mass. He has said of his sculpture, “I never give particular traits to my figures. I don’t want them to have personality, but rather that they represent a type that I create… what matters for me is the form, the voluptuous surfaces which emphasize the sensuality of my work.”