'Francisco Pradilla' in Heraldo de Aragón, Zaragoza, 1903
A. Gascón de Gotor, Museum, Barcelona, 1920, p. 441
E. Pardo Canalís, Francisco Pradilla, Zaragoza, 1952
W. Rincón García, Francisco Pradilla, 1987, p. 96, no. 35, catalogued and illustrated; illustrated in colour on the cover
Ana García Loranca & J. Ramón García-Rama, Vida y Obra del Pintor Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, Zaragoza, 1987, p. 341, no. 247; p. 141, illustrated
The romantically draped maidens in this, one of Pradilla's finest and most elegantly evocative narratives, gather at the foot of an ancient tree believed to represent Ceres that is reported to stand in her sanctuary in Figaleia, Arcadia.
Ceres was the goddess of agriculture in Greek mythology, especially associated with corn, a crop suggested in the background of the present work. The personification of the earth's abundance, she was worshipped as the earth-mother, the prime source of fertility. Taking his inspiration from Ovid's Metamorphosis, Pradilla shows the girls adorning the tree with charms and flowers, almost certainly harbouring private aspirations that their benevolence will in turn assure their own progeny.
Ovid's Metamorphosis, where Pradilla found his inspiration, narrates tales of Ceres' wrath causing individual or mass starvation. Proserpine, her daughter, was abducted by Pluto and taken to the underworld. During Ceres' extensive searching for Proserpine the earth remained barren of crops. Eventually Jupiter intervened and decreed that her daughter be returned for four months of the year (the summer months), during which time the earth blossomed until her retreat to the underworld when the ground became barren and winter took hold.
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