Saturday, October 11, 2014

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulnes: Vertumnus and Pomona

Did you notice the image of a tapestry Vertumnus in my post on Teixidors? I found some better illustrations of this tapestry from 16th century Brussels. 
I find him a very attractive fellow, this Mr Change/Sir Seasons. Yes, I like change and all four seasons. Roman legend tells that Vertumnus changed forms seven times in order to win over lovely Pomona, goddess of  fruitful abundance. By turns harvester, labouer,

 pruner, gardener, soldier, fisherman, it was finally it was disguised as an old woman that he won Pomona's trust and convinced her to accept his love.

(I've been planning to disguise myself as Pomona this Hallowe'en and this dress inspires me.
Hallowe'en isn't a holiday in France and is really not understood,
but that won't stop me from having fun!)

These improved illustrations of the tapestry located in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez south of Madrid come from the site Flandes en Hispania, a beautiful place to view many Flemish tapestries on-line.
The description explains:

"The tapestries of Vertumnus and Pomona are, without a doubt, the greatest artistic representations of the tale as told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses (Book XIV, 623-771). According to the poet, the goddess lived a reclusive life in her land, where she devoted herself exclusively to her duties: the tending of her gardens. She was distrustful of the creatures of the woods and did not let outsiders – especially male ones – into her orchards. Ovid tells how Vertumnus, the god of the seasons who fell in love with Pomona, manages to approach the goddess and seduce her using his special power, the ability to transform himself into whatever form he desires. The Habsburg tapestry collections contained at least four series of the story of Vertumnus and Pomona, woven in gold, silver, silk and wool. The series currently on display in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is one of these, series 18 in the National Heritage catalogue."

The pruning knife is Pomona's attribute.

                                                             Mouth watering seasonal fruit

"In the tapestries, the setting of the tale is Pomona’s marvellous garden, which is notable for the way it is innovatively depicted: a sort of stage with a sense of perspective. When all the tapestries are displayed together in one room, one beside another, they form a monumental interior garden – about 40m x 5m – in which figures of hot baths and caryatids stand out, holding up the exquisite pergolae. The compositions of these tapestries reflect the interest which was sparked by gardens in Renaissance courts, and the influence of iconographic programs first used on frescoes in northern Italy. However, the spectacular and luxurious settings in which the loves of Vertumnus and Pomona are told are related to the new forms of the 'architectural” garden which appears in literature such as the Poliphilo’s Dream, written by Francesco Colonna and printed by the celebrated Aldo Manucio in Venice in 1499.' "

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