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Aurora and Cephalus and Venus and Adonis: MAR.M.254-1912

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Aurora and Cephalus and Venus and Adonis


Maker: Laudin, Nicolas I (Possibly)
Maker: Laudin, Noël (Probably)
Printmaker: Tempesta, Antonio




Copper painted in polychrome enamels on both sides, and gilt. Aurora and Cephalus on one side, and Venus and Adonis on the other; gilt metal frame with suspension ring at top and bottom.

Circular convex copper plaque, painted on both sides in blue, green, turquoise, yellow, flesh pink, pink, red, brown, grey, black, and white enamels, and gilded. Gilt brass (?) mount with a circular ring hinged to it at the top and bottom.
On the front, Aurora stands on the left holding out her arms towards Cephalus who is accompanied by two hounds, and walks to the right looking back towards her. She wears a pink dress with a wind-blown blue drape. He wears a blue cuirass with yellow pteruges over a short white skirt, a pink cloak, and gold sandals, and carries a gold spear in his left hand. Both figures have pale grey hair, ruddy cheeks, and red toe nails. The hounds are white with red details, and gold collars. On the right is the trunk of a tree and there is a smaller tree in the left background. The ground is shaded in green, grey, and black, with small gold plants and highlights. The sky is black. Gold dots and lines enhance the edges of the garments, and there are dots on the foliage of the trees. Initialled in gold at bottom centre of the convex side, NL joined
On the reverse: On the left Venus and Adonis are seated on a grassy bank beneath three trees. She wears a pink dress held up by shoulder straps. He has a yellow tunic and blue boots. Further to the right is a white hound with red details and a gold collar, and in the right background, a stream or lake, and a wood. The sky is black. The folds of the garments are dotted in gold, and there are vertical rows of small dashes on the tree trunks and groups of dots on the foliage of the smaller trees.


History note: Martin Heckscher (d. 1897), Vienna; Christie’s 4-6 May 1898, 3rd day, lot 295; sold for £36 to C.B. Marlay (1831–1912); bequeathed by him

Legal notes

C.B. Marlay Bequest

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


17th Century, second half#
Circa 1650 CE - 1700 CE


The initials NL joined were used by Nicolas I Laudin (1628–98), but because of his infirmity in later life, this plaque is more likely to have been executed by his son Noël (c. 1660–1727), who also signed NL.

The orientation of the scene on the convex side of this plaque in relation to the concave side, indicates that it was probably the cover of a watchcase or box. It is decorated with two myths from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which are concerned with love and the dangers of the chase. On the front, Cephalus spurns the advances of Aurora (Eos) goddess of the Dawn, because he thinks only of his beloved wife Procris, whom he was eventually to kill by mistake while indulging his passion for hunting (Book VII, 704-865). On the back, Venus embraces Adonis with whom she has fallen in love. Not heeding her warnings to beware of the fiercer beasts when hunting, he would shortly attack a wild boar and be gored to death. (Book 10, 519-739)

The scenes were derived from two illustrations by Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630) to 'Metamorphoseon sive transformationum ovidianarum . .', Amsterdam, 1606, respectively pls. 69 and 96. The enameller omitted a hound on the left of plate 96.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel gold
Plaque composed of copper
Frame With Loop Height 10.2 cm
Frame Width 8.4 cm

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: NL joined
  • Location: At bottom centre of the convex side
  • Method of creation: Painted in gold
  • Type: Initials

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: MAR.M.254-1912
Primary reference Number: 156449
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 6 November 2023 Last processed: Monday 6 November 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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