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