Aurora, seen here both frontally and in profile, was the Roman goddess of dawn who, as night ended, would rise to the heavens in her chariot to announce the coming of the sun. As she rode, her hair was swept in the wind. That this image is copyrighted suggests that the artist intended to reproduce it as a print to be sold. A companion piece for this miniature called "The Golden Hour" has not been located (see "Scribner's Magazine," XXI, 1897, p. 251). Baer is known to have painted some eleven allegorical subjects of this kind.
William Jacob Baer was born in Cincinnati in 1860, where he was trained in lithography. In 1880 he traveled to Munich to study drawing and painting at the Royal Academy. When he returned to the United States, he lived in New Jersey where he taught drawing and painting at Princeton University. In 1893 he moved to New York and where he first painted portrait miniatures; by 1894 he had given up easel painting all together to focus exclusively on this genre. He helped found the American Society of Miniature Painters, and is considered instrumental in the revival of miniature at the end of the 19th century. Baer exhibited both nationally and internationally, at the Exposition Universelle (1900), Pan-American Exposition (1901), Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904), and the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915), where he work was well received. He seems to have found particular success with Henry Walters and his relatives. The Walters Art Museum holds six works on ivory by the artist.