The present scene is described in book one of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Io, the daughter of the Pre-Olympian god Inachus, was one of the many mortal women subject to the amorous advances of Jove. Fearful of the jealous eye of his wife Juno, Jove disguised her initially as a cloud, then as a heifer. Unconvinced and ever-cognizant of her husband's wandering eye, Juno demanded the heifer be given to her as a present, entrusting its safe-keeping to her faithful servant Argus. For a depiction of the succeeding episode of the same myth, see lot 743.
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