Vertumnus transformed into a pruner (Aranjuez)

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Vertumnus transformed into a pruner (Aranjuez)
This tapestry, the fourth in the series, shows Vertumnus’ fourth appearance before Pomona. According to Ovid in his Metamorphoses (XIV, 647), Vertumnus transformed himself into a pruner after his transformation into a labourer.

Carrying a sickle

As indicated in the Latin inscription in the upper border, SVMPTA FIT FALCE PVTATOR (Bearing a sickle, he is a pruner), Vertumnus here appears as a pruner opposite Pomona. In the foreground, the marvellous architectural setting is dominated by the statues of the Three Graces. The group of sculptures hold up a strange pergola in which polymorphous ornaments – cups, large baskets, masks and even birds – seem alive, forming the wooden framework around which branches and foliage are intertwined.

The trace of Poliphilo’s dream

The meeting between the gods takes place once more in a garden depicted in perspective. Behind the principal scene, a railing of carved stone forms an atrium, closed by a peristyle. Elegant vessels are arranged on top of the pillars of the railing. The peristyle, classical and refined, is made up of beautiful white marble columns whose bases and capitals are of gilded stucco. We can see the influence of The Dream of Poliphilo in the design of this setting, more than in the other tapestries. This was an extremely famous literary work whose publication in Venice by the printer Aldus Manutius was accompanied by printings which illustrated marvellous architectural garden settings. The work captivated erudite circles at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The loves of Jupiter

In the centre of the lower border, one of the episodes of the loves of Jupiter is depicted (as is usual in this series): Danaë. The ornaments in the side borders show scenes of transformations into plants, taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: on the left, the metamorphosis of Baucis and Philemon and, on the right, Apollo and Daphne.

Series Vertumnus and Pomona

Fourth 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 420 x 570 cm

Location Royal Palace of Aranjuez

On display Hall of the King’s Halberdiers

Origin Mentioned for the first time in the inventory of Charles II

National Heritage Series 18


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