The Fruit of Promise: Citrus Fruits in Art and Culture at the Germanisches National Museum


NUREMBERG.- Bitter oranges and lemons are found in portraits since the 15th century. Varied meanings are tied up with the fruits. In the Baroque age, it was popular to symbolize the descent of a portrait subject from the Dutch ruling dynasty of Orange by a small fruit-bearing orange tree. Often a citrus fruit represented the social or moral status of the portrait subjects. But citrus fruits could also point to personal botanical preferences and to dream destinations in Southern climes. Many 17th century child portraits show the portrayed subjects with a citrus fruit in their hand and a dog by their side. According to the conception of the time, the child as the fruit of the parents gradually gained maturity – hinted at by the citrus fruit – through the upbringing, symbolized by the dog. Time and again citrus fruits were also associated with the subject of wedding, marriage and love. This traces back to the golden apples of the Hesperides which already in the classical myths wer