Vertumnus reveals his identity to Pomona

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Vertumnus reveals his identity to Pomona
In the eighth and final tapestry of the series, Vertumnus reveals his real identity to Pomona. Although it is still faithful to Ovid’s account in Metamorphoses (XIV, 664-670), the iconography of the tapestry is unique and differs from other National Heritage series. The panel, however, is a fragment of the original tapestry which was modified, like the rest of the series, to be used in the State Dining Room of the Royal Palace.

Vertumnus removes his disguise

Vertumnus is seen shedding his old lady disguise while he takes Pomona’s hand, revealing to the goddess who he loves so much his love and real identity. In the original tapestry a Latin inscription, contained in a banner in the upper border, described the scene: HIC REDIT IN SESE VERTVNVS [Here, Vertumnus returns to his real self].

The garden

The final meeting between the gods takes place in a garden, in a gallery in perspective, in front of a porch made up of an arch which is held up by petrified figures. A vine covers the pergola and two putti hold up a garland. Beneath the arch, we read the following inscription: NÕ POTVIT FALLERE FECIT ANVS [He could not deceive her any longer. He turned into an old woman]. As in the first tapestry of the series, the double inscription allows us to identify the tapestry as that which was presented in the Maria of Hungary’s Palace of Binche in 1549.

An allegory of marriage

The union of the gods is part of the traditional iconographical depiction of matrimony. Some details allude to nuptial ceremonies at court. Thus, for example, in some public ceremonies it was normal for the husband to lie down beside his wife with one leg bare, a detail which could be alluded to in Vertumnus’ bare foot.

The border

The left border shows the metamorphosis of Baucis and Philemon, while on the right we see that of Clitia.

Series Vertumnus and Pomona

Eighth tapestry in the series

Model Circle of Pieter Coeck van Aelst

Manufacture Wilhelm Pannemaker, Brussels, c. 1545-1550

Fabric Gold, silver, silk and wool

Size 428 x 360 cm

Location Royal Palace of Madrid

On display State Dining Room

National Heritage Series 16


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