Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Brief History of the Christmas Tradition of Wassail

William Hogarth (1697-1764) 'The Midnight Conversation', Detail. c 1732

"Wassail" appears in English literature as a salute as early as the 8C poem Beowulf, in references such as "warriors' wassail and words of power" and:
The rider sleepeth,
the hero, far-hidden; no harp resounds,
in the courts no wassail, as once was heard.

An anonymous Anglo-Norman Poet, who witnessed the Saxon toasting cry before the Battle of Hastings in 1066, wrote:
Rejoice and wassail
Pass the bottle and drink healthy
Drink backwards and drink to me
Drink half and drink empty.

In Saxon times the original Wassail was was a greeting meaning: "be in good health." In 12C, it became a toast, the response to the toast became drink hail, or "drink good health." Norman conquerors who arrived in the 11C regarded the toast as distinctive of the English natives.

A story told in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, written in 1135, purports to explain the origin of the toast:
The story of toasting 'wassail' begins when Renwein presented King Vortigern with a cup of wine and the salute 'Was hail.'
The story of toasting "wassail" begins when Renwein presented King Vortigern with a cup of wine and the salute "Was hail."
While Vortigern was being entertained at a royal banquet, the girl Renwein came out of an inner room carrying a golden goblet full of wine. She walked up to the King, curtsied low, and said "Lavert King, was hail!" When he saw the girl's face, Vortigern was greatly struck by her beauty and was filled with desire for her. He asked his interpreter what it was that the girl had said and what he ought to reply to her. "She called you Lord King and did you honour by drinking your health. What you should reply is 'drinc hail.'" Vortigern immediately said the words "drinc hail" and ordered Renwein to drink. Then he took the goblet from her hand, kissed her and drank in his turn.

Ronald Hutton in his The Rise and Fall of Merry England. Oxford, 1996, reports:"A 14Ctext by Peterd e Langtoft describes in detail the custom involving this vessel, to which the Tudor sources only refer in passing: the leader of a gathering took it and cried "Wassail" Old English for "your health". He was answered "Drink hail," and then passed it to another person with a kiss, so that these actions could be repeated by each. At the early Tudor court it was accompanied into the king's presence by the chief officers of the household, bearing staves. In great families it was made of precious metal- Edmund earl of March, leaving a silver one upon his death in 1382."
Wooden Lignum Vitae Wassail Bowl Owned by Arthur Chichester, Brought from Devon to Ulster in 1599

"The bowl is first mentioned by Matthew Paris in the 13C, as one in which cakes and fine white bread were communally dipped."

"Near the end of the 13C, Robert of Gloucester retold the legend of the marriage of the British king Vortigern with the Saxon princess Rowena, making the latter drink to the former with the words "waes heal."

"When Peter de Lantoft repeated the story in the 1320s, he portrayed people drinking alternately from the same cup with the exchange "wassaille" and "drinkhaille", exactly as in Tudor England. This sequence raises the possibility that the exchange became customary around 1300, but this, again cannot be proved."
English Lead Glazed Earthenware Wassail Bowl from Wilshire Dated 14-12-1682


On the introduction of Christianity, the custom of wassailing was not abolished, but it assumed a religious aspect. The monks called the wassail bowl the poculum caritatis (loving cup), a term still retained in the London companies, but in the universities the term Grace Cup is more general. Immediately after grace the silver cup, filled with sack (spiced wine) is passed round. The master and wardens drink welcome to their guests; the cup is then passed round to all the guests. A loving or grace cup should always have two handles, and some have as many as four. Loving Cup. This ceremony, of drinking from one cup and passing it round, was observed in the Jewish paschal supper, and our Lord refers to the custom in the words, “Drink ye all of it.”“He [the master of the house] laid hold of the yesset with both hands, lifted it up, and said- Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, thou king of the world, who hast given us the fruit of the vine; and the whole assembly said `Amen.' Then drinking first himself from the cup, he passed it round to the rest."
FromEldad the Pilgrim, chap. ix."
English Wooden Lignum Vitae Wassail Bowl and Cover Late 17C

On the Twelfth Day, January 8, & Wassail from Le Neve,The Royalle Book, Henry VII: "As for the void on the Twelfth Night, the king and the queen ought to have it in the hall. And as for the wassail, the steward, the treasurer, and the controller, shall come for it with their staves in their hands; the king's server and the queen's having fair towels about their necks, and dishes in their hands, such as the king and queen shall eat of; the king's carvers and the queen's shall come after with chargers or dishes, such as the king or queen shall eat of, and with towels about their necks. And no man shall bear anything unless sworn for three months. And the steward, treasurer, comptroller, and marshall of the hall shall ordain for all the hall. And, if it be in the great chamber, then shall the chamberlain and ushers ordain, after the above form; and if there be a bishop, his own squire, or else the king's such as the officers choose to assign shall serve him; and so of all the other estates, if they be dukes or earls; and so of duchesses and countesses. And then there must come in the ushers of the chamber, with the pile of cups, the king's cups and the queen's and the bishop's with the butlers and wine to the cupboard, and then a squire for the body to bear the cup, and another for the queen's cup such as is sworn for hire. The singers (of the chapel) may stand at one side of the hall, and when the steward cometh in at the hall-door, with the wassail, he must cry thrice "Wassail," &c, and then shall the chapel answer it aon with a good song, and thus in likewise, if it pleased the king to keep the great chamber. And when the king and queen have done, they will go into the chamber. And there belongeth for the king, two lights with the void, and two lights with the cup; and for the queen as many."
English Lead Glazed Earthenware Wassail Bowl from Wilshire Dated 14-12-1682

Lead Glazed Earthenware Wassail Bowl & Cover from Wiltshire Dated 1702
The Wassail Cup Scottish 1871
Wooden Lignum Vitae Wassail Bowl Dated 1685

English Silver Mounted Lignum Vitae Wassail Bowl c. 1720

1660 England - The Merry Boys of Christmas - A Little Romance & a Lot of Beer

Merry Boys of Christmas OR,The Milk-Maids New-Years-Gift.

When Lads and Lasses take delight,
together for to be;
They pass away the Winter Night,
and live most Merrily.
To the Tune of, Hey Boys up go we.

Come, come my roaring ranting Boys,
lets never be cast down,
Wel never mind the Female Toys,
but Loyal be to the Crown:
Wel never break our hearts with Care,
nor be cast down with fear,
Our bellys then let us prepare,
to drink some Christmas Beer.

Then heres a Health to Charles our King,
throughout the world admird,
[L]et us his great applauses sing,
that we so much desird,
And wisht amongst us for to Reign,
when Oliver ruld here,
But since hes home returnd again,
come fill some Christmas Beer.

These Holidays wel briskly drink,
all mirth we will devise,
No Treason we will speak or think,
then bring us brave mincd Pies:
Roast Beef and brave Plum-Porridge
our Loyal hearts to chear,
Then prithee make no more ado,
but bring us Christmas Beer.

The Magi travel the long Silk Road

 Anonimo Siglo XI Codex Bruchsal

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God.  To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany as the arrival of the wise men from the east at the birthplace of Jesus (The Adoration of the Magi) 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally, Eastern Christian churches celebrated Epiphany (or Theophany) in conjunction with Christ's baptism by John the Baptist on January 19th. Some Protestant churches celebrate Epiphany as an entire religious season, extending from Christmas Day until Ash Wednesday.

The biblical Magi, also referred to as the Wise Men or Kings, were – in the Gospel of Matthew – distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.  Matthew is the only of the 4 canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews." The gospel does notmentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been 3 in number, based on the statement that they brought 3 gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number 12. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to the anticipatory Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him."

The phrase "from the east" (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, apo anatolon), more literally "from the rising [of the sun]," is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. The Parthian Empire, centered in Persia, occupied virtually all of the land east of Judea & Syria (except for the deserts of Arabia to the southeast). Though the empire was tolerant of other religions, its dominant religion was Zoroastrianism. Although Matthew's account does not cite the motivation for their journey, the Syriac Infancy Gospel provides some clarity by stating explicitly in the 3rd chapter that they were pursuing a prophecy from their prophet, Zoradascht (Zoroaster).

There is an Armenian tradition identifying the "Magi of Bethlehem" as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, & Gaspar of India. Historian John of Hildesheim relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (near Islamabad in Pakistan) that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes connecting China & the Far East with the Middle East & Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China & closed them.

Sebastian Brock, a historian of Christianity, said: "It was no doubt among converts from Zoroastrianism that… certain legends were developed around the Magi of the Gospels."  Central Asian Christian king, Prester John's Mongol descendants were sought as allies against the Muslims by contemporary European monarchs & popes.

Sempad the Constable of Armenia visited the Mongol court in Karakorum in 1247–1250 & in 1254. He wrote a letter to Henry I King of Cyprus & Queen Stephanie (Sempad’s sister) in 1243, in which he said: “Tanchat [Tangut, or Western Xia], which is the land from whence came the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Lord Jesus which was born. & know that the power of Christ has been, & is, so great, that the people of that land are Christians; & the whole land of Chata [Khitai, or Kara-Khitai] believes those Three Kings. I have myself been in their churches & have seen pictures of Jesus Christ & the Three Kings, one offering gold, the second frankincense, & the third myrrh. & it is through those Three Kings that they believe in Christ, & that the Chan & his people have now become Christians”

Marco Polo claimed that he was shown the 3 tombs of the Magi at Saveh south of Tehran in the 1270s: In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; & in this city they are buried, in 3 very large & beautiful monuments, side by side. & above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair & beard remaining. (Marco Polo, Polo, Marco, The Book of the Million, book I, chapter 13)

Saturday, December 5, 2020

An Angel for Advent

Melozzo da Forli (Italian Renaissance artist, 1438-1494) Angel from the Vault of the Sacristy of Saint Mark  January 29, 2011. "Without Melozzo, the work of Raphael and Michelangelo would have never existed.” 

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Magi travel the long Silk Road

The Three Kings Admire the Star. Canterbury. c 1140. The British Library.

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God.  To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany as the arrival of the wise men from the east at the birthplace of Jesus (The Adoration of the Magi) 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally, Eastern Christian churches celebrated Epiphany (or Theophany) in conjunction with Christ's baptism by John the Baptist on January 19th. Some Protestant churches celebrate Epiphany as an entire religious season, extending from Christmas Day until Ash Wednesday.

The biblical Magi, also referred to as the Wise Men or Kings, were – in the Gospel of Matthew – distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.  Matthew is the only of the 4 canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews." The gospel does notmentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been 3 in number, based on the statement that they brought 3 gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number 12. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to the anticipatory Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him."

The phrase "from the east" (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, apo anatolon), more literally "from the rising [of the sun]," is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. The Parthian Empire, centered in Persia, occupied virtually all of the land east of Judea & Syria (except for the deserts of Arabia to the southeast). Though the empire was tolerant of other religions, its dominant religion was Zoroastrianism. Although Matthew's account does not cite the motivation for their journey, the Syriac Infancy Gospel provides some clarity by stating explicitly in the 3rd chapter that they were pursuing a prophecy from their prophet, Zoradascht (Zoroaster).

There is an Armenian tradition identifying the "Magi of Bethlehem" as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, & Gaspar of India. Historian John of Hildesheim relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (near Islamabad in Pakistan) that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes connecting China & the Far East with the Middle East & Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China & closed them.

Sebastian Brock, a historian of Christianity, said: "It was no doubt among converts from Zoroastrianism that… certain legends were developed around the Magi of the Gospels."  Central Asian Christian king, Prester John's Mongol descendants were sought as allies against the Muslims by contemporary European monarchs & popes.

Sempad the Constable of Armenia visited the Mongol court in Karakorum in 1247–1250 & in 1254. He wrote a letter to Henry I King of Cyprus & Queen Stephanie (Sempad’s sister) in 1243, in which he said: “Tanchat [Tangut, or Western Xia], which is the land from whence came the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Lord Jesus which was born. & know that the power of Christ has been, & is, so great, that the people of that land are Christians; & the whole land of Chata [Khitai, or Kara-Khitai] believes those Three Kings. I have myself been in their churches & have seen pictures of Jesus Christ & the Three Kings, one offering gold, the second frankincense, & the third myrrh. & it is through those Three Kings that they believe in Christ, & that the Chan & his people have now become Christians”

Marco Polo claimed that he was shown the 3 tombs of the Magi at Saveh south of Tehran in the 1270s: In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; & in this city they are buried, in 3 very large & beautiful monuments, side by side. & above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair & beard remaining. (Marco Polo, Polo, Marco, The Book of the Million, book I, chapter 13)

Thursday, December 3, 2020

An Angel for Advent

 

Melozzo da Forli (Italian Renaissance artist, 1438-1494) Angel 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Pricey Christmas Turkey in 16C-18C England

About the Christmas turkey in England. In the 1570s, the price of a large turkey was 3s 4d & average weekly wage of a laborer was 2s 9d.  A Christmas turkey cost over 1 week’s wages for the working poor. But Tomas Tusser had reported in 1557 that, “Beef, mutton, and pork, and good pies of the best, Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well drest,” was the dinner of choice for the British gentry.  By the early 1600s turkey had begun to replace the tougher meats of peacock & swan at major Tudor banquets held by the rich & powerful. In the 1740s, a large turkey was 6s 3d & average weekly wage of a laborer was 8s 2d.  The celebrated Christmas turkey had dropped to just under a week’s wages for poorer British subjects.

The Magi travel the long Silk Road

Salterio de Ingeborg de Dinamarca S XII-II

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God.  To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany as the arrival of the wise men from the east at the birthplace of Jesus (The Adoration of the Magi) 12 days after Christmas. Traditionally, Eastern Christian churches celebrated Epiphany (or Theophany) in conjunction with Christ's baptism by John the Baptist on January 19th. Some Protestant churches celebrate Epiphany as an entire religious season, extending from Christmas Day until Ash Wednesday.

The biblical Magi, also referred to as the Wise Men or Kings, were – in the Gospel of Matthew – distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.  Matthew is the only of the 4 canonical gospels to mention the Magi. Matthew reports that they came "from the east" to worship the "king of the Jews." The gospel does notmentions the number of Magi, but most western Christian denominations have traditionally assumed them to have been 3 in number, based on the statement that they brought 3 gifts. In Eastern Christianity, especially the Syriac churches, the Magi often number 12. Their identification as kings in later Christian writings is probably linked to the anticipatory Psalm 72:11, "May all kings fall down before him."

The phrase "from the east" (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, apo anatolon), more literally "from the rising [of the sun]," is the only information Matthew provides about the region from which they came. The Parthian Empire, centered in Persia, occupied virtually all of the land east of Judea & Syria (except for the deserts of Arabia to the southeast). Though the empire was tolerant of other religions, its dominant religion was Zoroastrianism. Although Matthew's account does not cite the motivation for their journey, the Syriac Infancy Gospel provides some clarity by stating explicitly in the 3rd chapter that they were pursuing a prophecy from their prophet, Zoradascht (Zoroaster).

There is an Armenian tradition identifying the "Magi of Bethlehem" as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, & Gaspar of India. Historian John of Hildesheim relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila (near Islamabad in Pakistan) that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes connecting China & the Far East with the Middle East & Europe. Established when the Han Dynasty in China officially opened trade with the West in 130 B.C., the Silk Road routes remained in use until 1453 A.D., when the Ottoman Empire boycotted trade with China & closed them.

Sebastian Brock, a historian of Christianity, said: "It was no doubt among converts from Zoroastrianism that… certain legends were developed around the Magi of the Gospels."  Central Asian Christian king, Prester John's Mongol descendants were sought as allies against the Muslims by contemporary European monarchs & popes.

Sempad the Constable of Armenia visited the Mongol court in Karakorum in 1247–1250 & in 1254. He wrote a letter to Henry I King of Cyprus & Queen Stephanie (Sempad’s sister) in 1243, in which he said: “Tanchat [Tangut, or Western Xia], which is the land from whence came the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Lord Jesus which was born. & know that the power of Christ has been, & is, so great, that the people of that land are Christians; & the whole land of Chata [Khitai, or Kara-Khitai] believes those Three Kings. I have myself been in their churches & have seen pictures of Jesus Christ & the Three Kings, one offering gold, the second frankincense, & the third myrrh. & it is through those Three Kings that they believe in Christ, & that the Chan & his people have now become Christians”

Marco Polo claimed that he was shown the 3 tombs of the Magi at Saveh south of Tehran in the 1270s: In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; & in this city they are buried, in 3 very large & beautiful monuments, side by side. & above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair & beard remaining. (Marco Polo, Polo, Marco, The Book of the Million, book I, chapter 13)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summer Myth of Pomona & Vertumnus - Gardens, Orchards, & Finding Love

Pomona Portrait of a lady as Goddess by Jean Ranc (French, 1674 - 1735) 

Pomona was the beautiful goddess of fruitful abundance in ancient Roman religion & myth. Pomona was said to be a wood nymph. The name Pomona comes from the Latin word pomum, "fruit," specifically orchard fruit. She was said to be  a part of the Numia, the guardian spirits who watch over people, places, or homes. While Pomona watches over & protects fruit trees & cares for their cultivation, she is not actually associated with the harvest of fruit itself, but with tending the flourishing of the fruit trees. In artistic depictions she is generally shown with a platter of fruit or a cornucopia & perhaps her pruning knife

Pomona, the alluring wood nymph, actually cared nothing for the wild woods but cared only for her well-cultivated fruit filled gardens & orchards. And Pomona had a thing about men. She fenced her garden orchards, so the rude young men couldn't trample her plants & vines. She also kept her orchards enclosed, because she wanted to keep away the men who were attracted to her good looks. Even dancing satyrs(a cross between a man & a goat) were attracted to her beauty. Despite the fact that she preferred to be alone to care & nurture her trees, this beauty was continually besieged by suitors, in particular one persistent god named Vertumnus. Vertumnus had the ability to take different human guises & made numerous attempts to woo Pomona, but she turned him away each time.

The god Vertumus caught on to Pomona's aversion to men in her orchards & in her life generally. In Roman mythology, Vertumnus, the young, handsome god of changing seasons & patron of fruits, determined to win over Pomona.  He could change his form at will according to Ovid's Metamorphoses (xiv).  He came to her in various male disguises, which included, a reaper, an apple picker, a fisher, a solider, & more. Even with the disguises, she still never paid him the slightest bit of attention. One day Vertumnus tried a disguise as an old women. And Pomona finally allowed him to enter her garden, where he pretended to be interested in her fruit. But he finally told her he was more exquisite than her crops. After saying that, he kissed her passionately, but it wasn't enough. Vertumnus kept trying to sway her by telling her a story of a young women who rejected a boy who loved her; in despair, the boy killed hung himself, & Venus punished the girl by turning her to stone. This narrative warning of the extreme dangers of rejecting a suitor (the embedded tale of Iphis & Anaxarete) still did not seduce her. It just didn't work, of course. 

He then realized that it was the feminine disguise didn't work & tore it off.  It wasn't until Vertumnus appeared before her in his full manliness (apparently quite a good looking male specimen), that Pomona finally gave in to his inviting male charms. Vertumnus is a god of gardens & orchards & so it appears they were a match made in heaven. To his surprise, she fell in love with his manly wiles, & they became the ultimate loving couple working & playing in gardens & orchards together from then on.

The tale of Vertumnus & Pomona has been said to be the only purely Latin tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The subject of Vertumnus & Pomona appealed to European sculptors & painters of the 16th through the 18th centuries, providing a disguised erotic subtext in a scenario that contrasted youthful female beauty with an aged old woman. But it wasn't the old woman that ultimately won the day. In narrating the tale in the Metamorphoses, Ovid observed that the kind of kisses given by Vertumnus were never given by an old woman.  In Ovid's myth, Pomona scorned the love of the woodland gods Silvanus & Picus, but finally married the brutally handsome Vertumnus. 

She & Vertumnus were celebrated in  an annual Roman festival on August 13. There is a grove that is dedicated to her called the Pomonal, located not far from Ostia, the ancient port of Rome. Unlike many other Roman goddesses & gods, Pomona does not have a Greek counterpart, though she is often associated with Demeter.

Monday, July 1, 2019

template Summer Myth of Pomona & Vertumnus - Gardens, Orchards, & Finding Love

Pomona, by Nicolas Fouché, c. 1700

Pomona was the beautiful goddess of fruitful abundance in ancient Roman religion & myth. Pomona was said to be a wood nymph. The name Pomona comes from the Latin word pomum, "fruit," specifically orchard fruit. She was said to be  a part of the Numia, the guardian spirits who watch over people, places, or homes. While Pomona watches over & protects fruit trees & cares for their cultivation, she is not actually associated with the harvest of fruit itself, but with tending the flourishing of the fruit trees. In artistic depictions she is generally shown with a platter of fruit or a cornucopia & perhaps her pruning knife

Pomona, the alluring wood nymph, actually cared nothing for the wild woods but cared only for her well-cultivated fruit filled gardens & orchards. And Pomona had a thing about men. She fenced her garden orchards, so the rude young men couldn't trample her plants & vines. She also kept her orchards enclosed, because she wanted to keep away the men who were attracted to her good looks. Even dancing satyrs(a cross between a man & a goat) were attracted to her beauty. Despite the fact that she preferred to be alone to care & nurture her trees, this beauty was continually besieged by suitors, in particular one persistent god named Vertumnus. Vertumnus had the ability to take different human guises & made numerous attempts to woo Pomona, but she turned him away each time.

The god Vertumus caught on to Pomona's aversion to men in her orchards & in her life generally. In Roman mythology, Vertumnus, the young, handsome god of changing seasons & patron of fruits, determined to win over Pomona.  He could change his form at will according to Ovid's Metamorphoses (xiv).  He came to her in various male disguises, which included, a reaper, an apple picker, a fisher, a solider, & more. Even with the disguises, she still never paid him the slightest bit of attention. One day Vertumnus tried a disguise as an old women. And Pomona finally allowed him to enter her garden, where he pretended to be interested in her fruit. But he finally told her he was more exquisite than her crops. After saying that, he kissed her passionately, but it wasn't enough. Vertumnus kept trying to sway her by telling her a story of a young women who rejected a boy who loved her; in despair, the boy killed hung himself, & Venus punished the girl by turning her to stone. This narrative warning of the extreme dangers of rejecting a suitor (the embedded tale of Iphis & Anaxarete) still did not seduce her. It just didn't work, of course. He then realized that it was the feminine disguise didn't work & tore it off.  It wasn't until Vertumnus appeared before her in his full manliness (apparently quite a good looking male specimen), that Pomona finally gave in to his inviting male charms. Vertumnus is a god of gardens & orchards & so it appears they were a match made in heaven. To his surprise, she fell in love with his manly wiles, & they became the ultimate loving couple working & playing in gardens & orchards together from then on.

The tale of Vertumnus & Pomona has been said to be the only purely Latin tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The subject of Vertumnus & Pomona appealed to European sculptors & painters of the 16th through the 18th centuries, providing a disguised erotic subtext in a scenario that contrasted youthful female beauty with an aged old woman. But it wasn't the old woman that ultimatrly won the day. In narrating the tale in the Metamorphoses, Ovid observed that the kind of kisses given by Vertumnus were never given by an old woman.  In Ovid's myth, Pomona scorned the love of the woodland gods Silvanus & Picus, but finally married the brutally handsome Vertumnus. She & Vertumnus were celebrated in  an annual Roman festival on August 13. There is a grove that is dedicated to her called the Pomonal, located not far from Ostia, the ancient port of Rome. Unlike many other Roman goddesses & gods, Pomona does not have a Greek counterpart, though she is often associated with Demeter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Time for Sitting Outdoors with Flowers & Dogs

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) Woman with Flower Basket & Intrigued Dog

Friday, June 14, 2019

Sunday, June 2, 2019

18C Allegory of Spring - Love & Bird Nests

1800 Spring by P Stampa published in London

This couple is in a garden with flowers in bloom & a cold frame on the right side. The man is picking a rose to add to the bunch he holds, while looking back at the woman, who carries a parasol. A boy shows passes a birds' nest to a little girl who holds out her apron.  In the background are men in a hay-field.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden - Illuminated Manuscripts


Adam and Eve in The Garden pf Edem Eating the Forbidden Fruit (detail), by Willem Vrelant, early 1460s

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Myth - Diana Goddess of the Hunt portrayed bt 17C & 18C Women

1765 Carle or Charles-André van Loo (French painter, 1705-1765) Luise Henriette Wilhelmine von Anhalt-Dessau as Diana.  She has a dog, an animal-skin wrap, a bow & quiver, & a crescent moon in her hair.

Early European portrait artists sometimes painted their contemporaries as allegories.  Allegorical portraits remained popular for several centuries, as they expanded to show the female sitter as a Biblical figure, a Greek or Roman goddess, or nymph or muse in in a rustic setting.  Diana is a Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon, & nature, associated with wild animals & woodland.  Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth & women. Diana was originally considered to be a goddess of the wilderness & of the hunt, a central sport in both Roman & Greek culture. 
1751 Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Italian artist, 1708-1787) Sarah Lethieullier as Lady Fetherstonhaugh, as Diana.  She has a crescent moon in her hair, a bow & a dog.

Early Roman inscriptions to Diana celebrated her primarily as a patron of hunters. Diana was often considered to be a goddess associated with fertility & childbirth, & the protection of women during labor.  Her care of infants also extended to the training of both young people & dogs, especially for hunting. Unlike the Greek gods, Roman gods were originally considered to be divine powers of presence that did not necessarily have physical form. The idea of gods having anthropomorphic qualities & human-like personalities & actions developed later, under the influence of Greek & Etruscan religion.  Diana was not only regarded as a goddess of the wilderness & the hunt, but was often worshiped as a patroness of families.
1765 Francis Cotes (English Painter, 1726-1770) The Honourable Lady Stanhope and the Countess of Effingham as Diana, and Her Companion.  Diana has a hunting spear & a crescent moon in her hair.
"... people regard Diana & the moon as one & the same. ...her name Diana derives from the fact that she turns darkness into daylight. She is invoked at childbirth because children are born occasionally after seven, or usually after nine, lunar revolutions ..." -- Quintus Lucilius Balbus as recorded by Marcus Tullius Cicero & translated by P.G. Walsh. De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), Book II, Part ii, Section c.

1700s Unknown French artist, Portrait of a Lady as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.  She wears a crescent moon in her hair and has an animal-skin wrap, a dog, a quiver & a bow.

1773 after François-Hubert Drouais (French artist, 1727-1775) Marie-Joséphine-Louise de Savoie (1753–1810), comtesse de Provence, as Diana with her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion.   She has a bow, & an animal-skin wrap.

1700-10 Nicolas de Largillière (French artist, 1656-1746)  Portrait of Lady as Diana with her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion. She has a bow & quiver nearby.

1771 Robert Hunter (Irish artist, fl. 1748–1780) Lady Margaret Butler Lowry-Corry (1748–1775), as Diana.  She has a dog & carries a hunting spear.

1688 Francois de Troy Lady Mary Herbert (1659–1744-1745), Viscountess Montagu, Previously the Honourable Lady Richard Molyneux, and Later Lady Maxwell, as Diana. She has a crescent moon in her hair, a dog, & an animal-skin component to her costume.

1680s Jacob Huysmans (Flemish artist, c 1633–1696)  Elizabeth Cornwallis (d.1708), Mrs Edward Allen, as Diana the Huntress with her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion. . She has a hunting spear, & an animal skin decoration, & feathers in her hair.

1670s-90s Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Baciccio) (Italian artist, 1639-1709) Diana the Huntress with her hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion.  Her bow & quiver lay on the ground.

1674 Jacob Huysmans (Flemish artist, c 1633–1696) Portrait of a Lady as Diana.  She has dogs, a bow & quiver, a hunting spear, & feathers in her hair.

Style of Peter Lely Peter Lely (English artist, 1618-1680) Ann Fanshawe (b.1654), Daughter of Sir Richard Fanshawe as Diana with a dog or a deer.

1670s Copy of  Peter Lely (English artist, 1618-1680) Mary II (1662–1694), when Princess Mary of York, as Diana.  She has a crescent moon in her hair, a bow & arrow & only the head of her dog companion is visible.

1666 Giovanni Maria Morandi (Italian painter, 1622-1717)  Claudia Felicitas of Austria as Diana.

1650 Jan van Mijtens (1613-1670) Lady as Diana. She has a tiny lap dog/hunting dog & carries a quiver on her back.

1650 Charles Beaubrun (Charles Bobrun) (French artist, 1604–1692) Portrait of a lady as Diana. She has a dog & a bow.

1640-50s Attributed to Giovanni Domenico Cerrini (Italian artist, 1609-1681) Christina, Queen of Sweden Alexandra Maria Vasa (1626-1689) as Diana. Here she has her dog & a hunting spear. The crescent moon hangs in the sky above them.

1640 Willem van Honthorst (Dutch artist, 1594-1666) Henriette von Nassau as Diana with her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion.   She has a bow & quiver with feathers in her hair.

1630 Claude Deruet (French artist, 1588–1660) Marie de Rohan, Duchesse de Chevreuse as Diana the Huntress.  She has dogs, a bow & quiver, a hunting horn, & a crescent moon in her hair.

Jan Mytens (Dutch artist, 1614-1670) Lady as Diana

1667 Claude Lefèbvre (French painter, 1633–1675) Louise de La Vallière as Diana. She has a quiver & bow as well as her faithful hunting dogs, Syrius & Phocion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

Barend van Kalraet (Dutch artist, 1649-1737) Lady by a Fountain with a Parott

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.  In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  He could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

Nicolaes Maes (Dutch artist, 1634-1693) Catherine Peels

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.  In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  He could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Monday, February 11, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

1650 Attr David Des Granges (British artist, 1611-c.1671) Portrait of Elizabeth, Countess of Carnarvon(1633-1678)

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain. Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls. He could not only interpret nature, he could control it. And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

Nicolaes Maes (Dutch artist, 1634-1693) Young Lady by a Fountain

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain. Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls. He could not only interpret nature, he could control it. And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

Style of Caspar Netscher (Dutch artist, 1639-1684) Portrait of a Young Lady at a Fountain

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nurish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain. Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls. He could not only interpret nature, he could control it. And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady was becoming sexually available for the right marriage partner.

Friday, February 8, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

Peter Lely (English artist, 1618-1680) Unknown Lady at Fountain

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain. Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls. He could not only interpret nature, he could control it. And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

1661 Peter Lely (English artist, 1618-1680) Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1637 - 1671. Became The First wife of James VII and II.

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain. Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls. He could not only interpret nature, he could control it. And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

1650 Attributed Henri Gascard (French artist, c 1635-1701) Traditionally identified as Ninon de Lanclos (1620-1705)

Early artists painted their contemporaries somewhat like allegories, & often painters would put the faces of their patrons or sponsors on the bodies of the saints. These came to be called donor portraits. Allegorical portraits remained popular; and as time passed, they expanded to show the sitter as a Greek goddess, or muse, or nymph in in a rustic setting.

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain.  In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nourish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  Here the garden owner could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually appealing for the right marriage partner.

17C Garden Fountains Predict the Perfect, Proper Wife

1664 Nicolaes Maes (Dutch artist, 1634-1693) Young Lady by a Fountain

Nicolaes Maes (Dutch artist, 1634-1693) Young Lady by a Fountain (For those who did not like a blond, serious sitter, Maes apparently painted this more cheerful brunette.)

By the 17C & 18C, artists portrayed women & girls, often the eligible daughters of the patrons commissioning the portraits, near a fountain. In these fountain settings, the young lady is often depicted in the mythical realm of Arcady, a fashionable conceit of the time. At the center of Arcady is the Garden of Love, where a figure of Cupid sits atop a fountain. The young lady places her hand in the flowing water...this is a motif much used by Van Dyke & Lely & it makes an allusion to her potential as a wife & mother, recalling Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verse 18 "Let thy fountain be blessed, & rejoice in the wife of thy youth."

Garden fountains were originally purely functional, connected to natural springs or aqueducts & used to provide water for drinking; water for bathing & washing; & water to nurish growing plants. The painting would announce to the viewer that the parent/patron had enough money, taste, & technological expertise to channel the water through an artistic garden fountain.  Water was now not just a necessary component of nature, the garden planner could make it an integral component of art both outdoors in his garden & indoors in the paintings on his walls.  He could not only interpret nature, he could control it.  And in this painting, he could announce his "natural" superiority, & might chose to have the portrait he has commissioned suggest that his young lady might be sexually available for the right marriage partner.