Cimon and Iphigenia

LL 3609


The title given is traditional, but dates continuously only from the twentieth century, and previously went by 'The Sleeping Shepherdress'. The story of the rude Cymon, whose personality was changed by glimpsing the sleeping Iphigenia, is told on the fifth day of Boccaccio's 'Decameron'. However, it was probably more familiar to an 18th-century audience in the form of John Dryden's poem, 'Cymon and Iphigenia'. Elements of Dryden's treatment, notably his description of the sleeping figure of Iphigenia, are closely followed in this representation. However, in other respects, notably the presence of the sheep which are not mentioned either by Dryden or Boccaccio, there are differences which may indicate that the artist intended to represent another subject altogether.