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BOLOGNESE SCHOOL, 17th CENTURY Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture
Oil on canvas Oval, 92 cm high Provenance: Private collection, Monaco In Roman mythology, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture, grain crops and fertility. She is often represented bearing a torch, riding in a chariot drawn by snakes, holding a caduceus, crowned with fruits or wheat, and holding a sheaf of wheat. Sometimes Ceres has a breast bared as a symbol of motherhood. Moneyers often used Ceres’ image on coins as a symbol of prosperity. Ceres is also mentioned in literature: a poem about Ceres and humanity features in Dmitri’s confession to his brother Alexei in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov; Ceres appears as a character in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (1611); she is remembered in De Mulieribus Claris, a collection of biographies of historical and mythological women by the Florentine author Giovanni Boccaccio, composed in 1361–62.