Angels in Art - Putti

Aurora, Giandomenico Tiepolo 1750/60

by Lin Vertefeuille, December 2002

Aurora was the sister of Helios, the sun-god. Every morning torch raised, she led Helios in his sun-chariot across the sky. The colors in the painting reflect the rising hues of dawn. This fresco has secular "pure putti" with no religious pretensions and is mythological in theme, They are amoretti or erote who were spirits of love so popular in the Rococo period. Erote were important associates of Aurora. This is because Aurora fell in love with the mortal, Cephalus. In the painting four erote carry her aloft and propel her love. Aurora, consumed by passion, abducted and tried to seduce Cephalus. He remained devoted and loyal to his wife, Proctis, and rejected her advances. Finally Aurora relented, but before she released Cephalus, she retaliated by planting seeds of suspicion about his wife's faithfulness. This distrust eventually caused the tragedy of Cephalus and Proctis as dramatically depicted in Abraham Janssens's painting, Cephalus Grieving over the Dying Procris in Gallery 13 (photo right below)

Hall, lames, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, Westview Press, Boulder Colorado 1974 p. 36-37, 62

Dictionary of Art, Macmillan Publishers Limited, London 1996 V. 30 p.863 - 864