L.63 Rosso? Cephalus and Procris


Painting, Cabinet des Peintures, Château, Fontainebleau.

The inventory of 19 January 1692 (verified in October, 1694) of the Cabinet des Peintures at Fontainebleau (Herbet, 1937, 94) records: “Un Céphale et Procris, peint sur bois, du Rousse” (mentioned by Béguin in Cox-Rearick, 1972, 5; in Carroll, 1987, 341, n. 2, under no. 106; and in Scailliérez, 1992, 18, with attribution to Rosso as made by d’Estrechy).  A print ascribed to Boyvin of this subject was designed by Rosso around 1538-1540 (Fig.E.14) but it shows the figures in two separate niches, as does the related drawing (Fig.D.76B).  It is likely, although not certain, that this image is not related to the lost panel painting.  If this picture was actually by Rosso, it is most likely that it was painted in France unless it was brought from Italy after his death.  But there is no indication that Rosso ever painted a wholly non-religious subject before he arrived in France.

Herbet, 1937, 152, believed that this lost picture was not the Cephalus and Aurora mentioned by Dan in 1642, 96, as in the fourth room of the Appartement des Bains beneath the Gallery of Francis I, a painting to which Dan attached no artist.  Herbet indicated that the latter is represented by a woodcut by Bernard Salomon, plate 86 of Clément Marot’s translation of the Metamorphoses d’Ovide, published by Jean de Tournes in 1549, which I have not seen.  But he seems to have forgotten that the inventory of 1692 mentions a painting of Cephalus with Procris and not with Aurora, although it is possible that all three of these figures appeared in a single picture.