Vertumnus transformed into a farmer (Aranjuez)

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Vertumnus transformed into a farmer (Aranjuez)

This tapestry, the second in the series, was divided into three fragments in 1879 for the permanent decoration of the State Dining Room of the Royal Palace in Madrid. This is how the piece was transformed to show the second transformation of Vertumnus: it was cut into three, and the central part was then displayed with the side parts of the second tapestry of another Vertumnus and Pomona series (series 16). The gods themselves are found in these side parts. Thus, although the title describes Vertumnus disguised as a farmer, the Latin inscription at the top in fact tells us that we are still being shown his first transformation, into a harvester.

Vertumnus as a harvester

According to the tale as told by Ovid in Metamorphoses (XIV, 641), Vertumnus here appears as a harvester, which conforms with the information given by the Latin inscription which appears in the central part: FOENI SECA E TRVCA TO GRAMINE (Carrying cut hay, he is a harvester). This Latin inscription appears in the central part, framed with part of the borders which previously framed the whole tapestry. If we put together the three fragments we can reconstruct the original composition: Vertumnus, with hay on his head and a spade (or pitchfork) on his shoulder, approaches the goddess, pretending to be a labourer. From the opposite side, Pomona questions him with a gesture while, in her other hand, she carries the pruning knife.

A gallery of polymorphic sculptures

The scene takes place in a splendid garden, depicted in perspective. The figures stand out in the foreground inside a gallery which is held up by curious statues of polymorphic creatures. The pedestals, as in the other panels of the series, contain decorations of cartouches and fruit.

Series Vertumnus and Pomona

Second tapestry of the series (side panels)

Models Circle of Pieter Coecke Van Aelst and Léonard Thiry

Manufacture Unknown workshop, Brussels, before 1550

Fabric Gold, silk and wool

Size 330 x 170 cm, 330 x 160 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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