The J. Paul Getty Museum

Aurora and Cephalus

Object Details


Aurora and Cephalus


François Boucher (French, 1703 - 1770)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



265 × 86 cm (104 5/16 × 33 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

In this tall decorative panel, Aurora, the goddess of dawn, gazes longingly upon the sleeping mortal Cephalus, with whom she has fallen madly in love. Here, François Boucher used light, pastel colors and the broad, rapid brushstrokes found in his tapestry designs. The sky is blue tinged with pink, and there is a suggestion of dawn awakening as light appears on the horizon. In contrast to Aurora's ethereality, Cephalus and his sleeping dog are bound to the earth; Boucher's choice of colors for these two figures—greens, reds, browns, and blues—accentuate this fact.

In 1768, Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville commissioned a set of six mythological subjects for his house in Paris. Together with delicate furnishings of the period, these colorful paintings created a room of Rococo refinement and vivacity. Boucher painted the works, including this one and its companion piece, Venus on the Waves , just one year before his death. The other four paintings now belong to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

possibly 1768 - 1783

Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville, died 1783 (Paris, France), commissioned by Jean-François Bergeret from the artist for Hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, 1768; by inheritance to his daughter, Marie-Charlotte Bergeret de Frouville, 1783.

1783 -

Marie-Charlotte Bergeret de Frouville (Paris, France), possibly by inheritance to her second husband, Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Hervé d'Arbonne.

- 1811

Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Hervé d'Arbonne (Paris, France), sold to Gabriel-Louis-François Périer, 1811.

1811 - 1815

Gabriel-Louis-François Périer, died 1815 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Amédée-Gabriel Périer, 1815.

1815 - 1838

Amédée-Gabriel Périer, died 1838 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his cousin, Pierre-Louis Raffard, 1838.

1838 -

Pierre-Louis Raffard, comte de Marcilly (Paris, France), by inheritance to Eugénie-Zoé Raffard.

- 1882
1882 - about 1882

M. Johnson, probably sold to Edmond James de Rothschild, about 1882.

about 1882 - 1934

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Austrian, 1845 - 1934 (Paris, France; Boulogne-sur-Seine, France), by inheritance to Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, 1934.

1934 - 1940

Baron Maurice Edmond Charles de Rothschild, French, 1881 - 1957, looted by the Nazis, 1940.

about 1940 - 1945/1946

In the possession of the Nazis (Paris, France), restituted to Edmond Charles de Rothschild, 1945/1946.

1945/1946 -
- 1971

Private Collection (possibly still Rothschild) (Paris, France) [sold, Palais Galliera, Paris, November 25, 1971, lot 11, through French and company, Inc. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Boucher in Focus (January 17 to April 18, 2004)
  • Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), January 17 to April 18, 2004
Casanova: The Seduction of Europe (August 27, 2017 to October 9, 2018)
  • Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), August 27 to December 31, 2017
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 8 to October 9, 2018

Palais Galliera, Paris. Importants tableaux et dessins de maîtres anciens. November 25, 1971, unpaginated, lot 11, ill., cover ill.

Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. 2 vols. (Lausanne: La bibliothèque des arts, 1976), vol. 2, pp. 295-96, no. 670, fig. 1751.

Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher (Milan: Rizzoli, 1980), p. 141, no. 708, ill.

Bailey, Colin B., ed. The First Painters of the King: French Royal Taste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, exh. cat. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1985), p. 130, no. 40, ill.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher, 1703 -1770, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), pp. 318-24, under nos. 84-85, entry by Alastair Laing.

Brunel, Georges. Boucher (Paris: Flammarion, 1986), p. 276.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher 1703-1770, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1986), pp. 321-27, under nos. 84-85, ill.

Pillsbury, William P., et al. In Pursuit of Quality: The Kimbell Art Museum; An Illustrated History of the Art and Architecture (Fort Worth: The Kimbell Art Museum, 1987), p. 246.

Bailey, Colin, et al. François Boucher: His Circle and Influence, exh. cat. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1987), p. 80, under no. 50, entry by Alan P. Wintermute.

Hart, Clive, and Kay Gilliland Stevenson. Heaven and the Flesh: Imagery of Desire from the Renaissance to the Rococo (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 55-56, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 14, ill.

Joulie, Françoise. "Les sujets mythologiques." In François Boucher: hier et aujourd'hui, exh. cat. Françoise Joulie and Jean-François Méjanès, eds. (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2003), p. 117.

Yeide, Nancy H. Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection (Dallas: Laurel Publishing, 2009), pp. 147, 360, no. A1002, ill.

Ilchman, Frederick, Thomas Michie, C. D. Dickerson III, and Esther Bell, eds. Casanova: The Seduction of Europe, exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2017), p. 307, no. 60.

Bell, Esther. "Paris." In Casanova: The Seduction of Europe, exh. cat. Frederick Ilchman, Thomas Michie, C. D. Dickerson III, and Esther Bell, eds. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2017), pp. 128, 136, ill.