“As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flies”.
- Seneca, Moral Epistles, c.65 AD
After Guido Reni, 19th Century
oil on canvas
21 x 435⁄8 in. (53.3 x 110.8 cm.)
frame 321⁄4 x 55 in. (81.9 x 139.7 cm.)
After the fresco in the Casino dell’Aurora, Rome.
Presented in a carved gilt-wood Florentine frame.
Guido Reni’s masterpiece L’Aurora was executed in 1614, and the striking image is as powerful today as it would have been to a viewer at the beginning of the 17th Century. Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, ushers in the day by leading Apollo, the god of light, across the sky. As she breaks through the cold, dark night, sun-rays (echoed by the flame-like frame) are cast upon the sleeping lands below. In the distance, fishing vessels head out to sea, no doubt welcoming the light, a symbol of optimism and hope for the day ahead.
Gracefully dancing alongside the chariot are The Hours (symbolising the passage of time), their feet softly cushioned on the clouds. Above the four horses flies Phosphorus, personifying the Morning Star. The torch he carries is less bright than the sunlight surrounding Apollo, and is soon to be eclipsed by the sun - Aurora appears to glance back at the putto in recognition of this, and perhaps acknowledging their inevitable reunion the following dawn.
Themes circulate around the painting, but in particular, hope, optimism, and the importance of seizing opportunities. It is the onset of a new day, and with it, regeneration, new beginnings, possibilities and potential, a valuable gift of hours that should be grasped and maximised by all: something that is helpful to be reminded of every precious day.