Reliefs depicting Spring and Summer
17th century, Painted papier-mâché
These oval reliefs in painted and gilt papier-mâché depict Spring, with flowers in her hair, and Summer, crowned in sheaves of wheat. Both figures stand out against a neutral background with gold hatching: an insect can also be glimpsed on the figure of Summer. They are a singular example of Baroque ornamentation from Reggio Emilia, which superimposed the splendid, symbolic vagueness of the decorative arts – somewhere between monumentality and the ephemeral – on the compositional structures of 16th-century prototypes and included panels, medallions, frames, and painted papier-mâché masks. The maker has not been identified, although the signature of an unknown "Gio. Martino Indoratore di Sassuolo" (Gio. Martino Gilder from Sassuolo) appears on the back, and we know that in Modena in the second half of the 17th century many artists and craftsmen worked on the building site of the Church of Sant'Agostino, which lead us to hypothesise that the works are of Emilian production. The reliefs are framed by interlocking festoons of laurel leaves and gilded stucco ribbons.