Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal


The image of the pomegranate has been used in works by many artists of different periods such as Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate (1485), Rachel Ruysch’s Fruit and Flowers (1716), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Proserpine (1874), and Salvador Dalí’s Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee (1944). Although the pomegranate is often interpreted as a symbol of fertility, there have been many other interpretations and usages of the pomegranate throughout art history such as mythological, religious, sexual, or simply as a natural object in a still-life study. The pomegranate has been referenced by scholars while discussing its symbolism in individual works of art but not examined over time and different periods of art. In this essay, I interpret each of the above artists’ use of the pomegranate through visual and iconographic analysis of their paintings. After analyzing each work, I discuss how they relate to my own work as an artist who is extending this tradition. In particular, I will describe the significance I see in the pomegranate as shown in my screen print My Beautiful Vessel ( Stretch marks or otherwise, 2019). I use the pomegranate’s physical attributes to express a body positive attitude in this work by highlighting both beauty and strength. By demonstrating the similarities and differences between my work and that of historical artists, I am able to provide further context and understanding for the use of pomegranate imagery of the past and present.