'Pomona', tapestry

'Pomona', tapestry

'Pomona'
Tapestry
Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) and John Henry Dearle (1860-1932) 
Made by Morris & Co.
England
About 1900
Tapestry-woven wool and silk on a cotton warp
Museum no. T.33-1981                  

In Roman mythology, Pomona was the goddess of fruit trees and orchards. Her name comes from the Latin word pomum, meaning fruit. Her story was told by the Latin poet Ovid in the Metamorphoses, in which she was pursued by the god Vertumnus, and the two lovers were popular subjects in painting and the decorative arts, including tapestry, in the 16th  century and later.

William Morris considered tapestry 'the noblest of the weaving arts', and his firm of Morris & Co produced exceptional examples, with scenes of Arthurian legend, medieval romance, and mythology, like this piece. The account book of the artist Edward Burne-Jones shows that he was paid £25 by Morris & Co in 1882 for the figure of Pomona, his first design specifically for tapestry. The design was woven in several versions, with alternative backgrounds to the figure, and to different scale. In this version the flowers and fruit, including the branch of apples Pomona is holding, were designed by John Henry Dearle.