Perino del Vaga, Vertumnus and Pomona, a drawing

Italy, around AD 1527

The two central figures of this story are taken from Ovid's poem, Metamorphoses, in which he tells stories about the loves of the classical gods. Pomona was a wood nymph who loved the fruits of the garden, especially apples and citrus fruits. Her symbol was the pruning knife which, in the drawing, she carries in her left hand. Apples tumble out of a cornucopia at lower right and others form a band about her head as she gives an apple to her lover, Vertumnus. The statue on the left, against which Vertumnus rests his foot, strengthens the erotic nature of the subject.

The outlines of the figures in this beautiful red chalk drawing are enhanced by pen and ink. The outlines were then indented so that the design could then be engraved. The strong cross-hatching suggests the shadows and serve as an aid to the engraver.

In about 1527 Perino (1501-47) was commissioned by the Roman printer, Baviera, to make a series of erotic drawings of the Loves of the Gods. They were then engraved by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (about 1500-65), who reversed Perino's design for the engraving.

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More information


P. Pouncey and J. A. Gere, Italian drawings in the Depa-3 (London, The British Museum Press, 1962)


Height: 176.000 mm
Width: 137.000 mm

Museum number

PD Sl 5226-96



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