THE STORY OF WINTER
The ancient Romans employed myths of gods and goddesses to explain occurrences in the natural world. The Roman myth of Proserpina explains why there is winter.
One day, when Proserpina, daughter
of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, was gathering flowers in the fields,
she was abducted by Pluto, god of the underworld, and carried off to his
kingdom. Ceres was consumed with grief and in anger she scorched the earth,
preventing grain from growing and the earth from producing fruit. Forced
to intervene, Jupiter negotiated a compromise that provided Proserpina
had not eaten anything while in the underworld she would be set free. Pluto
however had offered Proserpina part of a pomegranate, which she accepted.
The Fates would not allow Proserpina to be fully released, but a settlement
was agreed upon by which she would spend part of the year with Pluto in
the underworld (winter) and part of the year with her mother Ceres (summer).
When Proserpina is with Pluto the earth is barren and cold and when she
returns to her mother, Ceres pours forth the blessings of spring to welcome
her beloved daughter home.
"Flora, Æsculapius, Ceres, with Cupid, Honoring the Bust of Linnæus"
John Russel and John Opie
Stipple engraving printed in color, finished by hand
from Robert Thornton (1768–1837)
New illustration of the sexual system of Carolus von Linnaeus
London: For the author by T. Bensley,1807
The opening plate depicts Ceres, the goddess of
agriculture, along with Flora, the goddess of flowers, paying tribute to
a bust of Linneaus, the father of modern botany. The Temple of Flora
is the third and final part of a lavish work honoring the Linnaean system
of plant classification. The finished work is better known for its artistic
achievement than for its scientific accuracy.
from Simon Thomassin (ca. 1654- 1733)
Furstellung der jenigen Statuen, Groupen, Bader, Brunnen, Vasen,…
Augsburg: J.F. Leopold, 1720
The statue of the rape of Proserpina depicts the moment of her abduction by Pluto, god of the underworld. Francois Giraudon was the most eminent sculptor in 17th century France and the dominant sculptor for the gardens of the palace of Versailles under Louis XIV. His sculpture of Proserpina achieved great acclaim and was considered to be his masterpiece.
from John Bowles (1701- 1779)
Versailles illustrated; or, Divers views of the several parts of the royal palace of Versailles
London: Printed and sold by John Bowles, 1726
Giraudon’s sculpture was given a dramatic setting in the royal gardens at the Château of Versailles. Jules Hardouin Mansart, chief architect of Louis XIV, designed the fountain Colonnade erected in 1684 that surrounds the statue. This elaborate structure was the setting for numerous concerts given by the King and can still be seen in the gardens of Versailles.
Stipple engraving printed in color
from Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700–1782)
Traite des arbres et arbustes que l’on cultive en France en pleine terre
Paris: Chez Etienne Michel, 1809
The pomegranate, a Persian native, was well known
to the Romans. In addition to its edible fruit, the seeds and leaves are
used for medicinal purposes and the flowers and bark are used for dyes.
Its leathery skin provides a long storage life that made it an important
food source along the arduous Asian trade routes, earning it the name "fruit
Georg Dionysius Ehret
from Christoph Jacob Trew (1695–1769)
Nuremberg: J.J. Haid, 1750–1773
While the fruit of the pomegranate may be familiar to those who dwell in temperate climates, its attractive flowers are not as well known. Georg Dionysius Ehret, one of the finest botanical illustrators of the 18th century, considered the pomegranate unique enough to merit several variant depictions in this work.
Story of Winter Orangeries Hothouses Old New York Contriving Walk Through Florists