“Un fior vano e fragile”: The Symbolism of Poussin's Realm of Flora

Troy Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Glosses in Renaissance Ovids, mythological handbooks, and other sources help to clarify the meaning of Poussin's Realm of Flora in Dresden. In his painting Poussin represented the mortab from Ovid's Metamorphoses who became flowers. The commentaries in Giovanni Andrea deU'Anguillara's Italian translation (first published in 1561), representative of a long tradition, interpret these unfortunate humans as victims of their own passions, and the flowers they become as symbols of vanity and the brevity of life. The article suggests that these allegories illuminate the meaning and melancholic atmosphere of Poussin's painting, a work combining the forms of vanitas and elegy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalThe Art Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History


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