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This painting is essentially a celebration of the fecundity of Nature. In the centre is a sculpted herm of a many-breasted goddess, based on the cult statue of Diana of Ephesus, from which the Renaissance personified Nature. The (partly-abraded and partly-concealed) inscription on the pedestal identifies her specifically as 'the Great Mother, Earth who bears everything'. The three nymphs (often, for no good reason, identified as the Graces), are removing her veil and twined-wool necklace, in readiness for their substitution as honorific emblems by floral crowns, a red backcloth, and the extraordinary garland of fruit and flowers, which is being attached to the flanking oak trees by satyrs and winged putti. On the ground below, other nymphs and satyrs bind fruit to the garland, presided over by the unmistakable figure of fat Silenus, who holds a festive torch in Nature's honour.
Nature and Her Followers
oil on panel
H 106.7 x W 72.4 cm
bequeathed by Jane Graham-Gilbert, 1877