The story of Io, who is abducted by Jupiter and changes into a white heifer, is described in the Metamorphoses (1-8 BC) by the Roman poet Ovid. Jupiter’s wife Juno gives Argus, who has a hundred eyes, the task of watching over the cow. Mercury then decapitates Argus and places his eyes in the tail of the peacock. This painting is the earliest depiction of the fable to come from the Northern Netherlands. High in the air, we see Mercury flying in. On the hill, left of centre, he is showing the severed head of Argus.


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