This mythological image of Vertunmus and Pomona is the best-known work of the French painter Jean Ranc (1674 – 1735). A painting that is kept in the Fabré Museum of his native Montepellier.
He would do this work between 1720 and 1722, and precisely in that last year he traveled to Spain, since the King Felipe V, required his services to portray various members of the royal family. And it is that Ranc had by then made a long career as a portraitist and had worked for many French aristocracy and also forKing Louis XVand his family
Vertumnus and Pomona by Jean Ranc
The fact is that Ranc settled in Spain, even died in Madrid in 1735, doing work for the Madrid Alcázar and for court. And among that court engravings of this mythological allegory of Vertumno and Pomona would circulate, which would become very popular. So much so that many years later it could have been an influence for the painting by Goya el Parasol. Just as it could be an antecedent of the famous Goyesque work La familia de Carlos IV, a sketch by Ranc for a portrait of the family of Felipe V, a genre of family portraits not too common in the Spanish pictorial tradition.
The truth is that in this canvas, despite being an allegorical scene of a mythological nature, you can see some of the constants of hiswork as a portrait artist. He is a very precious painter, who paints with care and detail all those elements that appear in his compositions. For example, we can look at the jewels or iridescent silks that Pomora, goddess of fruit, wears, which we see has a basket of fruit next to her, alluding to her symbolism as a representation of abundance. A basket of fruit that Ranc also serves to remember one of the baroque painters he most admired: Caravaggio, who had painted an impressive still life inside his painting with the effigy of the god Bacchus.
And it could also be said that the abundant games between light and shadow are the fruits of the study of Caravaggio art, in which the parasol carried by the goddess makes even more sense. An umbrella that with its white tone stands out enormously against the dark background of the vegetation.
In addition to all this, the painter cannot ignore his facet as a portraitist, so that even on a canvas in which the detailed identification of the characters is not necessary, it is undeniable that he has painted them with great realism, making authentic portraits of their models.