The connection between art and horticulture is becoming more and more apparent as the weeks go on. We have been shown endless amounts of artwork but one painting spoke especially loud to me, Madonna of the Pomegranate by Sandro Botticelli (1487). In this painting the Virgin Mary is holding Jesus with angels surrounding her, but the main focal point is the pomegranate that Jesus is holding.
Pomegranates are present in many paintings throughout history, and most definitely in Italian art. This ancient fruit was used in many Renaissance paintings to symbolize abundance, fertility, and hope. The pomegranate, Punica granatum, is classified as a berry that develops on a shrub or small tree. Native to Iran, in the Fertile Crescent, the pomegranate has spread and is now cultivated in numerous regions of the world, including the Mediterranean.
Along with being an attractive and historic fruit, pomegranates are also useful and serve many purposes. There are many recipes that incorporate pomegranate, but this berry can also be eaten by itself by cracking the outside to expose the seed coverings, arils. Medicinal uses of the berry include traditional remedies that date back to ancient times. Nutritional benefits include the consumption of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, unsaturated oil, and micronutrients.
This coming week we are traveling back to Florence to visit the Uffizi Gallery, where Madonna of the Pomegranate resides. Seeing the painting in person instead of on a blurry, poor lit slide will be an amazing experience. It is truly remarkable to see the importance of horticulture in this painting and because of it, I now have a new appreciation for art and all of its intricate details.