Vertumnus transformed into a fisherman (central part)
As in other tapestries from the series no.18 belonging to National Heritage, this seventh tapestry was split into three parts at the end of the nineteenth century. The central part is displayed at this Royal Palace of Madrid, meanwhile the parts depicting Vertumnus and Pomona are shown at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. The original tapestry showed Vertumnus disguised as a fisherman, as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (XIV, 649).
The architecture of Pomona’s garden which forms the setting for this scene is even more complex than in the other tapestries of the series. The gods appear here beneath a space formed by two covered galleries. In the centre, a beautifully carved arch opens up our view of the garden, the perspective emphasised by the double row of Corinthian columns. These columns mark out a central pathway, which leads towards a meadow. Some children put down a basket of fruits and, in the background, we see a group of satyrs dancing behind a flautist.
Transformations into plants
The ornaments in the side borders show two transformations into plants, again both inspired by the Metamorphoses. On the left-hand side, Leucothea, after being buried alive by her father, is transformed into an incense plant by Apollo, who loved her. On the right-hand side, we can identify Myrrha once more, who was transformed into a myrrh tree after having intercourse with her father. In the lower border, Jupiter seduces Alcmene by disguising himself as Amphitryon, her husband.
Series Vertumnus and Pomona
Seventh tapestry of the series
Models Circle of Pieter Coecke Van Aelst and Léonard Thiry
Manufacture Unknown workshop, Brussels, before 1550
Fabric Gold, silk and wool
Size 432 x 322 cm
Location Royal Palace of Madrid
On display Hall of the King’s Halberdiers
Origin Mentioned for the first time in the inventory of Charles II
National Heritage Series 18