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Hera, Hermes, Argus, and Io in the shape of a Cow: M.7-1836

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Hera, Hermes, Argus, and Io in the shape of a Cow


Production: Unknown




Folding fan, with paper leaf painted in colours and gilt. Sticks of ivory inlaid with mother-of-pearl and piqué in silver. The guards are carved in relief with geometrical shapes inlaid with mother-of-pearl with piqué borders. The sticks are pierced with diaper pattern and carved in relief with a lady and gentleman dancing on either side of a tree, flanked by stylized plants and buildings, enclosed in a scroll border and geometrical shapes inlaid with mother-of-pearl with piqué borders. The leaf is painted with a mythological scene: Hera/Juno, Hermes/Mercury, and Io in the shape of a cow. Border of foliage and tassels with gilt edge.


History note: Miss Whitehurst, Hertford

Legal notes

Given by Miss Whitehurst

Measurements and weight

Width: 48 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1836-07-27) by Whitehurst, Miss


Late 18th century
Production date: circa AD 1790 : sticks could be earlier


Chickenskin painted in body colour; ivory sticks and guards Zeus was trying to seduce Io, a priestess of Hera at Argos, and when she ran from him, changed her into a white cow to conceal her from Hera, his wife. Hera asked for the cow as a present, and set many-eyed Argus to guard it. Zeus sent Hermes to kill Argus and free Io, who after much wandering regained her human form, married the Egyptian King Telegonus, and was worshipped as Isis.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Leaf composed of paper gilt paint
Sticks+guards composed of mother-of-pearl
Guards Length 27.9 cm

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.7-1836
Primary reference Number: 118047
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 12 January 2021 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Hera, Hermes, Argus, and Io in the shape of a Cow" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-02-09 10:33:27

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{{cite web|url= |title=Hera, Hermes, Argus, and Io in the shape of a Cow |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-02-09 10:33:27|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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