Vertumnus transformed into a farmer

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Vertumnus transformed into a farmer

This tapestry, the second in the series, was split into three fragments in 1879 to permanently decorate the State Dining Room of the Royal Palace. Two of the pieces were framed and the third, the central part, remained without its top and bottom borders, but the side edges were altered. Although the title of the tapestry describes Vertumnus disguised as a farmer, the Latin inscription (now lost) in fact told us that Vertumnus was still in his first state of transformation into a harvester.



A harvester, in Latin

The tapestry depicts the second appearance of the god before Pomona, which, according to the tale as recounted by Ovid in Metamorphoses (XIV, 641), is related to these lines: Often he came, his temples wreathed with hay, as if he had been tossing new mown grass. A Latin inscription in the upper border, which has been lost, described the scene: FOENI SECA E TRVCATO GRAMINE (Carrying cut hay he is a harvester). In his second transformation, Vertumnus, crowned with hay, approaches the goddess, with a spade (or pitchfork) resting on his shoulder, pretending to be a labourer. Pomona questions him with a gesture and in her other hand carries her pruning knife.


A gallery of sculptures

The scene takes place in a splendid garden, represented in perspective. The gods are located in the foreground inside a gallery formed of a double portico. Three stone pediments, sculpted with friezes and decorated with cartouches, in which even bronze parrots appear, form the upper part of the portico, which is held up by eight curious statues of polymorphic creatures. The pedestals, as in the other panels of the series, contain decorations of cartouches and fruit. In the centre, a young woman leaves a basket of fruits down on the marble step. In the background, a monumental doorway provides access to the second part of the garden, marked out by a covered gallery and a network of colonnades, where Pomona, or a nymph, reprimands Pan, who is playing the flute.


Mythological adornments

The side and bottom edges depict various mythological scenes. In the central part of the lower border we see an episode about the loves of Jupiter: Danaë. In the side edges, we can pick out episodes from Metamorphoses: on the left, the transformation of Daphne, and on the right, the transformation of the nymph Myrrha.


A harvester, in Latin

The tapestry depicts the second appearance of the god before Pomona, which, according to the tale as recounted by Ovid in Metamorphoses (XIV, 641), is related to these lines: Often he came, his temples wreathed with hay, as if he had been tossing new mown grass. A Latin inscription in the upper border, which has been lost, described the scene: FOENI SECA E TRVCATO GRAMINE (Carrying cut hay he is a harvester). In his second transformation, Vertumnus, crowned with hay, approaches the goddess, with a spade (or pitchfork) resting on his shoulder, pretending to be a labourer. Pomona questions him with a gesture and in her other hand carries her pruning knife.


A gallery of sculptures

The scene takes place in a splendid garden, represented in perspective. The gods are located in the foreground inside a gallery formed of a double portico. Three stone pediments, sculpted with friezes and decorated with cartouches, in which even bronze parrots appear, form the upper part of the portico, which is held up by eight curious statues of polymorphic creatures. The pedestals, as in the other panels of the series, contain decorations of cartouches and fruit. In the centre, a young woman leaves a basket of fruits down on the marble step. In the background, a monumental doorway provides access to the second part of the garden, marked out by a covered gallery and a network of colonnades, where Pomona, or a nymph, reprimands Pan, who is playing the flute.


Mythological adornments

The side and bottom edges depict various mythological scenes. In the central part of the lower border we see an episode about the loves of Jupiter: Leda and the swan. In the side edges, we can pick out episodes from Metamorphoses: on the left, the transformation of Daphne, and on the right, the transformation of the nymph Myrrha.


Series Vertumnus and Pomona

Second 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 429 x 266 cm; 430 x 266 cm; 325 x 175 cm

Location Royal Palace of Madrid

On display State Dining Room

National Heritage Series 16



CB




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