Vertumnus transformed into an old woman
The bogus old woman
Disguised as an old woman, Vertumnus attempts to convince Pomona to accept his courting by telling her the story of Iphis and Anaxarete. Iphis, a young boy with humble origins, loved Anaxarete with all his heart. Anaxarete was a noble young girl who was known for her coldness and cruelty. Iphis, despairing because of her repeated rejection, ended up hanging himself in the door of her house, and he was granted vengeance by the gods, who transformed Anaxarete into a stone statue. The original tapestry contained the following inscription in the upper border: PO[S]TREMO FIT ANVS FALLAX [Finally, he transforms himself into an old lying woman].
A vine and an elm tree
Beneath the vault of a pergola, Vertumnus sits opposite Pomona and points out to her with his cane a vine twisting itself around an elm tree. According to the lines from Ovid, the image of these plants supporting one another alludes to the benefits of marriage.
An allegory of matrimony
In the traditional sixteenth- and seventeenth-century iconography of the depiction of Vertumnus and Pomona’s love, this episode sparked the most interest among artists. The popularity of this image originates in that it was used in the first printed and illustrated editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. At the end of the sixteenth century, the scene had a specific meaning: it acted as an allegory of matrimony.
An extravagant setting
Putting the sixth and seventh tapestries together, we can easily see the extravagance and architectural complexity of the setting. As usual, in the foreground we see the gods underneath a gallery covered with vegetation, this time a vine full of grapes. Many types of petrified creatures are rooted in the pedestals, decorated with images of grotesques, and they hold up the classical pediments. Arranged on top of the stone railing, we note especially the monumental and magnificent bowls and baskets full of various plant species.
The abduction of Ganymede and other myths
The borders of this sixth tapestry were made up from the borders of a tapestry in National Heritage Series 18. In the central lower, the abduction of Ganymede by Jupiter is depicted. In the side border we find, on the left, the transformations of Baucis and Philemon, and, on the right, the myth of Luecothea.
Series Vertumnus and Pomona
Sixth 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 430 x 365 cm
Location Royal Palace of Madrid
On display State Dining Room
National Heritage Series 16