October 13, 2004

Vertumnus, Autumns

Vertumnus was the Roman God of the seasons, of the changes and ripening of plant life. A Deity apparently imported from the Estruscan pantheon, He was the patron of gardens and of orchards. In common with most Divinities worthy of mention, He could transform Himself into various guises. It was by assuming the shape of an old woman that He came to win the attention of the garden Goddess Pomona, or so the fable tells it.

Vertumnus […] undergoes changes with an end in view, changing his figure several times to enter into the good graces of the beautiful nymph Pomona; that is, he personifies changes in cultivation to obtain the fertility of the fields represented by Pomona, the goddess of fruits - Mario Praz.
'Vertumnus', by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1591.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Vertumnus is one of the latest, and perhaps the very best surviving example of the artist’s ‘composed heads’. He painted it in 1591, during his final visit to his native Milan. The fruit and flora in the picture suggest the features of the Emperor Rudolf II, Arcimboldo’s patron. Vertumnus’ time is the harvest, but, as I’ve already done summer, I’ve put him in with the following pair of Autumns instead…

'Autumn', by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1573.

This is our fifth Baltic autumn: of them all, the first stands out in my mind as having been an exceptionally calm season, an almost imperceptibly gradual transition from sunlight and heat to chilly gloom, although I daresay this impression was heightened by our being so accustomed to the blustery Atlantic falls we grew up with.

'Autumn', by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1572.

As with the previous entries here about Arcimboldo, these images are scanned from the 1980 book about the artist published by Franco Maria Ricci. Click on the images to see them in much more detail.

Posted by misteraitch at October 13, 2004 10:30 PM | TrackBack

STUPID no info here
thanks alot not

Posted by: Kait on December 4, 2004 12:29 AM

You’re welcome!

Posted by: misteraitch on December 4, 2004 09:38 AM

The most marvelous portrayal of the Vertumnus and Pomona story is the fresco by Pontormo in the Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano (near Florence). That was around 1520 or so.

It is one of the most beautiful things in Italy which is saying a lot!

Posted by: Ron Sabaroff on December 8, 2004 12:00 PM
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