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Demeter was the Greek goddess of the earth, particularly the fruits of the fields, and as normal she is represented here as the corn-goddess. Her hair is covered with ears of corn, from which poppies drop around her. Her daughter Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken beneath the earth to his kingdom. Inconsolable at the loss of her daughter, Demeter refused to allow the earth to be fruitful. In the painting, the landscape around Demeter is rocky and barren. Humanity would have starved, had not the gods intervened. They arranged for Persephone to be returned to her mother. But Hades had tempted Persephone to eat a few pomegranate seeds, the symbol of marriage and hence tied her to his side. A compromise was reached, whereby Persephone spent one-third of the year with her husband Hades, beneath the earth, and two-thirds with her mother.
Conserved with the aid of a grant from the AIM Pilgrim Trust Conservation Scheme.
Demeter Mourning for Persephone
oil on canvas
H 51.2 x W 45.8 cm