Aurora and Cephalus

Aurora and Cephalus

c.1810

Oil on canvas

Framed: 34.9 x 29.9 x 7 cm (13 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 2 3/4 in.); Unframed: 22.8 x 16.8 cm (9 x 6 5/8 in.)

Gift of the Painting and Drawing Society of The Cleveland Museum of Art 2002.101

Fun Fact

This myth subverts typical gender dynamics: usually a man captures a woman, but in this story the trope reversed.

Description

The goddess of the dawn, Aurora, fell in love with the shepherd Cephalus. She eventually seized him at daybreak, bringing him to the heavens while he slept—the scene Girodet has painted here. Later, missing his wife, Procris, Cephalus begs to return. Aurora agrees, giving him a magic spear that kills every target, including his wife, when he mistakes her for an animal in the brush.

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