Paulus Moreelse: Vertumnus and Pomona (1630)

(Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

The story of Vertumnus and Pomona comes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Vertumnus is the Roman god of seasons, plant growth, gardens and fruit trees. Pomona is a Roman goddess of fruit trees, garden, and orchards. According to the tale, Pomona was always busy and not interested into love - much to the frustration of other gods. Vertumnus changed himself into an old woman in order to gain entrance to the secret garden of Pomona. In the garden Vertumnus admired the grapes (shown in the painting) and used the tale of Iphis and Anaxarete as a warning of the dangers of rejecting a suitor. Iphis was a shepherd who was in love with Anaxarete. Anaxarete mocked his feelings until Iphis comitted suicide by hanging himself. When Anaxarete even mocked the funeral of Iphis, she was turned to stone by Aphrodite as a punishment. After this tale, Vertumnus showed himself in his true form and Pomona fell in love with him. Painting from 1630.

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