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Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

The Hesperides Filling the Cornucopia


Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
Haarlem 1562 – Haarlem 1638


The Hesperides Filling the Cornucopia




Oil on canvas


68.7 x 99 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 2013.11


Western Art

“The River Achelous used to change himself into all sorts of shapes. When he fought with Hercules,. . . he changed himself into a bull. Hercules tore off his horn, presenting it to the Hesperides or the Nymphs, and the goddesses filled it with fruits and called it Cornucopia,” recounts Latin author Gaius Julius Hyginus (about 64 B.C.E.-17 C.E.) in his book of myths Fabulae. Here, the artist creates visual rhymes between nature’s bounty and women’s bodies, delighting in the sensory pleasures of both. The thin blond braids of the women at right mimic the wheat sheafs in their basket. Round fruit, some shown in pairs, evoke the shape of breasts: One may even interpret the women’s flesh – peach in tone with soft, fuzzy outlines – as a subtle extension of this poetic analogy.

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