Ceres – the Allegory of Summer and Symbol of the Good to Come
That zest for life and freedom we are all missing so much at the moment can be found in a small, but exquisitely beautiful figurative group (h. 30 cm), created around 1760 by the famous Franconhttp://www.boehler-art.com/en/dossier/ignaz-guenther/ian sculptor Ferdinand Tietz (1708–1777). It depicts a sensual young female figure, a putto and a peasant woman. Thanks to the attributes, the ears of corn, the beautiful naked lady can be identified as the goddess Ceres. In our mind’s eye, a sequence of images appear that relate a tale of strength and passion from Classical mythology:
http://www.boehler-art.com/kunstobjekte/?c=aktuelesCeres was the beautiful daughter of the gods Saturn and Ops. She gave birth to Proserpina who unintentionally caused quite a stir on Mount Olympus. The young maiden, fathered by Jupiter, the greatest of all gods, was carried off against her will by none other than Pluto, the god of the Underworld. Only after bargaining for a long time was a solution found between the distraught mother and the possessive husband. Proserpina then spent four months of the year in the Underworld and eight months with her mother on earth. During Proserpina’s absence, Ceres was so saddened that she did not want any plants to grow or blossom. When Proserpina was with Ceres, nature awoke and flourished. Ceres became the goddess of agriculture, fertility and relationships. She symbolises the cycle of nature and is easily recognisable by her attribute of sheaves of wheat.
Ferdinand Tietz removes the goddess of fertility to his own time. He does not depict her statically or majestically, as found in works from Classical Antiquity, but as a lively, erotic and unconstrained figure. She is not subject to the conventions of the world of gods, just as absolutist rulers of the 18th century did not want to be either, when – in private and away from court etiquette – they spent time with artists, commoners and lovers.
Ferdinand Tietz’s most important clients at this time were members of the Church such as Johann Philipp Anton von und zu Franckenstein (1695–1753), Prince-Bishop of Bamberg, and his successor Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708–1779), Prince-Bishop of Würzburg and Bamberg. Both loved spending time in their private residences and parks outside the city gates and far from court ceremony.
A flower garden was created at the summer palace Schloss Veitshöchheim, near Würzburg, around 1702.
Ferdinand Tietz created a series of mythological garden sculptures from 1763 onwards so that Prince-Bishop Friedrich von Seinsheim could stroll around the park in divine company, so to speak. At Schloss Seehof near Bamberg, the former summer residence and hunting lodge of the prince-bishops of Bamberg, Ferdinand Tietz populated the park with mythological, exotic and fantastic figures, initially for Johann Philipp Anton von und zu Franckenstein and subsequently for his successor, Friedrich von Seinsheim. In both places, fabulous landscape gardens were created with vegetal architectural shapes and water features – an illusionary world that provided a counterpoint to constraints of courtly life.
We can well imagine how the famous and sought-after sculptor pictured the beautiful Ceres with her entourage in this small, sculptural draft. However, the person who commissioned the work had the final say. The sensual and eroticised depiction of our figure of Ceres corresponds to the formal language found during the heyday of the Rococo. We know the large stone sculpture of Ceres and the young peasant woman in Veitshöchheim where she is also shown holding the typical sheaves of wheat but, instead of a putto, a large pumpkin lies at her right foot that, along with the ears of corn, stands for the summer harvest. Created around 1765/66 it clearly references our small sculptural draft. Ceres, however, is shown more modestly wearing a garment and more majestically in her overall appearance. The slightly frivolous, light-hearted jauntiness is lacking. But isn’t it just such qualities that are an example to us all to look positively into the future? A beautiful summer always comes after a cold winter.