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Vittore Carpaccio: 'The Departure of Ceyx'

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This panel, which appears to have been cut down, illustrates the story of Alcyone from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (XI: 410-748). Ceyx's departure to consult the oracle of the god at Claros was delayed by his devoted wife Alcyone, who had foreseen a stormy sea and winds. A companion panel in the Philadelphia Museum of Art shows the body of Ceyx (who reluctantly set off despite his wife's protestations and whose ship was destroyed in a storm as predicted) being carried back to Alcyone upon the waves. When she recognised her husband's body, Alcyone hurled herself into the sea. The unfortunate pair were transformed by a pitying god into birds, which are shown on the left of the Philadelphia panel.

The costumes in both works are identical, supporting the idea that the two pictures were conceived as a pair, though their original destination is not known.

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