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Mildred Anna Williams Collection
The story of Rhodopis, as Strabo told it, recalls that of Cinderella in that a lost slipper led to a royal marriage. While Rhodopis was bathing in the city of Naucratis, an eagle flew off with one of her sandals and carried it to Memphis. There the bird dropped the sandal in the lap of King Psammeticus who was holding court out of doors. Struck by the strange event, as well as by the beauty of the sandal, Psammeticus instigated a search for the owner. When Rhodopis was found, she was brought to Memphis and became the wife of the king. Rhodopis advances from the left. She wears a pale pink tunic costume with scallops, embroidery, and jewels. Two attendants carry her ermine train. Her dark hair, worn in braids, is surmounted by cascading feathers. She carries before her a golden cup. Three men in the middle distance dig with hoes and shovels; a fourth carries a burden. Their labor can, perhaps, be interpreted as the building of the third pyramid, “The Tomb of the Courtesan,” as Strabo called it. King Psammeticus sits on a throne elevated by two marble steps. He wears a crown, ornamental armor, and a blue mantle. A large eagle flies toward him, carrying the slipper. The king’s gesture of surprise is repeated by his courtiers. The borders are tightly packed with rinceaux ending in serpents’ heads. The serpents hold ribbons that pass through lions’ mouths at the corners. The Labors of Hercules mark the center, top and bottom; devils with pendulous breasts, horns, and goat legs appear at the lateral mid-points. From Anna Gray Bennett, "Five Centuries of Tapestry: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1976; repr. 1992): 191.