Flight of Europa depicts the mythological beginning of Europe. Greek mythology tells the story of Europa, a beautiful Phoenician princess, and her journey to Crete. According to ancient legend, the god Zeus disguised himself as an enchanting white bull so he could entice Europa away. She was so captivated by the bull that she climbed on its back. The dastardly bull rushed to the ocean and swam westward to Crete, away from Europa’s life in Phoenicia. Upon her arrival to Crete Europa had three sons, including Minos, the future King of Crete, which is considered the earliest European civilization. Legend, and the ancient Greeks, crowned her the mother of Europe.
Artist Paul Manship crafted the Flight of Europa in 1925. The gilt bronze cast depicts the story of Europa’s abduction. Eros, known as Cupid, gently whispers in Europa’s ear, while the leaping dolphins assist Zeus on his journey to Crete. Paul Manship chose the patterned marble base to convey a sense of crashing waves. Ensuring authenticity, Manship even inspected vessels from the Minoan era of Crete to shape the bull’s form. The Columbus Museum’s gilded casting is one of only five in existence and was acquired with the help of a Friend of the Museum and The Crowley Foundation Acquisition Fund.