Portières des Dieux - Summer, Water, Spring
One of the most successful series of Gobelins tapestries was the Portières des Dieux, which shows the seasons and the elements personified by classical gods and include signs of the zodiac.
Four of these tapestries represent the seasons: Venus – Spring, Ceres – Summer, Bacchus – Autumn, Saturn – Winter, the other four represent the Elements: Diana - Earth, Juno – Air, Jupiter – Fire and Neptune – Water.
In 1699 the painter Claude Audran III was commissioned to design this series for the Manufacture Royale de Gobelins, which had re-opened that year.
The design was reworked multiple times in the eighteenth century with versions on a yellow ground generally dating between 1722 and 1729.
Summer, Water, Spring depicts three of the eight Gods included in the Portières des Dieux.
The left panel shows Ceres- Summer, Goddess of agriculture, in particular corn. As a personification of the earth’s abundance she wears a crown of corn ears and the putti by her side holds a sickle. Above her is a cartouche with a lion, the symbol the star sign Leo.
The centre panel depicts Neptune-Water, the God of the water and sea is seated on a cloud above a large golden boat, within a border of flowers but also many items found at sea; shells, shrimps, crabs and coral. He carries his distinct trident and above him is the sign of the zodiac for Pisces. Below him a putti empties an urn of flowing water.
On the right sits Venus - Spring, on a yellow ground in a decorated pavilion Venus reclines on a cloud, accompanied by Cupid and two swans, there are flowers in her hair and in her right hand she holds an arrow from Cupid, who sits beside her gazing up. The tapestry displays a variety of symbols of love and Spring, including the bird’s nests, turtle doves and flowers. Above Venus doves hold up a garland of flowers which link to cartouche displaying signs of the Zodiac.