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In pictures

Apollo Advent Calendar: Day 14

14 December 2013

Apollo is counting down to Christmas by celebrating some of the greatest acquisitions, gifts and bequests of 2013. We’ll take a closer look each day at one of the outstanding objects, works of art or collections shortlisted for the Apollo Awards Acquisition of the Year.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Aurora Triumphing over Night, c. 1755–56
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)
Oil on canvas, 95.3×131.4cm
Purchased with funds by contribution and by exchange from a gift of Laurence K. and Lorna J. Marsh

This large-scale painting of Aurora, goddess of the dawn, dates from the 1750s, and as an early example of Fragonard’s work, is extremely rare. It was probably conceived as a pair alongside Diana and Endymion in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and together they would have fitted into a wider decorative scheme as overdoor paintings. The goddess, crowned by the morning star, scatters roses over the drowsy figure of shrouded night. It betrays the influence of Boucher, Fragonard’s master, whose Rising of the Sun of 1753 is strikingly similar. Fragonard painted this work shortly before his departure to the French Academy.