The Tapestry of the Months Sequence
January, February, August. The three tapestry of the Months Sequence stored in the museum-household of Villa del Principe since 1561 are a unique historic-artistic token. Each dedicated to the representation of a month they display the work in the fields the daily activities, the ceremonies and the festivities that in the XVI century were usually undertook in that period of the year. The entire opera is lightened from the presence in the centre of the tapestry of the mythological divinity that tradition bonded to that particular month.
- At the top, in the centre of the circular band, is depicted the zodiac sign of Aquarius.
Two-faced Janus, the traditional divinity of the month, is the protagonist of the main scene portrayed in the large central medallion. The god, sitting at a sumptuously laid table, is elegantly clothed according to the Renaissance fashion, and holds two big keys in his left hand, reminiscent of the temple dedicated to him, whose gates were kept open in times of war, so as to allow Janus to assist the Roman soldiers, and kept closed in times of peace. On the left, in front of the table, is portrayed Bacchus (bacvs), on the right-hand side is Ceres (ceres), whose long hair is crowned by ripe ears of corn. In the top corners appear Juno (ivno), travelling on her triumphal chariot drawn by two peacocks, and Iris (iris), the winged divinity, messenger of the gods. The lower corners have personifications of the winds: Aeolus (eolvs), portrayed while pumping a bellows, alluding to his stormy strength, and Notus (nocvs), a warm humid wind.
- The sign of Pisces can be seen at the centre of the circular band, at the top.
In the central medallion, a female figure, depicted in a solemnly frontal position on top of a triumphal arch, holds a gold sceptre in her right hand. It is the divinity febrva, personification of the purification rituals characterising the month of February in ancient Rome. The domestic chores and the cold climate of the month are the theme portrayed in the tapestry. On the right, two women are sitting and weaving wool, whilst in the foreground, a young boy is blowing on the embers contained in a small wheeled brazier. On the left, a richly clad gentleman warms himself before a fireplace, while a maid pokes the fire with a pair of springs and a red-clad servant carries some logs.
Outside the medallion, scenes of everyday life are depicted in the lower corners, where it is snowing hard. On the left, a man can be seen trying to warm himself by blowing on his fingers, while on the right a gentleman pushes a sledge where an elegant lady is sitting. The upper corners are occupied by personifications of the winds (boreas and circius), moving the stormy clouds from which the snow visible in the lower section is falling.
- At the centre of the circular band, the zodiac sign of Virgo takes on the guise of a red-clad queen.
In the upper part of the central medallion, Ceres (ceres), goddess of crops and abundance, holds seven ears of wheat in her left hand; her figure rises above harvesting scenes. On the left-hand side, a barefoot man, beside two women with their children (a symbol of fertility), is beating wheat. To the right, a youth is holding a large basket, full of wheat grains, in his hands. Outside the medallion, at the top-left, segessa, that is to say ‘Segesta’, the Latin divinity invoked during wheat harvesting, is represented with her arms open. On the right, a second minor divinity, cvcvlina, is holding a long shovel, symbolising her connection with the work and produce of the ground.