Cephalus and Aurora

LL 713


The story of Cephalus, retold in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, was popular among artists in the 17th and 18th centuries. Aurora, Roman goddess of the dawn, fell in love with the mortal Cephalus. She carried him away to live with her on Mount Olympus, home of the gods. Flaxman represents the moment when the youth, after resisting her advances, finally yields to the amorous Aurora, Greek goddess of the dawn. This was one of the artist’s first major sculptures and was made in Rome, where he had gone to study antique works. The trip was financed by his work for Josiah Wedgwood. The sculpture may be a commission from the celebrated collector Thomas Hope, one of the prime movers of neo-classical taste. It formed the centrepiece of the famous ‘Star Room’, decorated throughout with emblems of dawn and the retreating night, at Hope’s London house in Duchess Street.