COYPEL, Noel-Nicolas
(b. 1690, Paris, d. 1734, Paris)

The Rape of Europa

Oil on canvas, 128 x 194 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Coypel best survives today in a fairly homogeneous group of mythological pictures, not on too vast a scale, which breathe a lively hedonism and relaxation without insipidity. They form a distinct link between the Regence and Boucher.

The Rape of Europa is probably Coypel's masterpiece and it stands in its own right as well as being a remarkable anticipation of Boucher's Birth of Venus. Coypel took part in the concours (competition) of 1727 with the Rape of Europa which, though not awarded a prize or bought by the Crown, was highly thought of by some connoisseurs. It deserved to win the concours of 1727, but the injustice then done to Coypel was remedied by the Comte de Morville, a secretaire d'etat, who shrewdly bought the picture and paid for it the amount the king had promised for the winning work; the ultimate loser was to be the French state.

Although Coypel never went to Italy, his art owes a great deal to the example of Correggio and also, it is reasonable to guess, to Rosalba Carriera. Coypel practised as pastellists, almost certainly under her influence. Noel-Nicolas was praised by discerning contemporaries for religious work as well as for mythologies - but most of the former has been destroyed.