Proserpina, or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were based on those of Greek Persephone and her mother Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and agriculture. The Romans identified Proserpina with their native fertility goddess Libera, daughter of the grain and agriculture goddess Ceres and wife to Liber.
Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor (also known as Cupid) to hit Pluto with one of his arrows. Proserpina was in Sicily, at the Pergusa Lake near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers, when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna. He abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in the underworld of which he was the ruler.
Her mother Ceres went looking for her across all of the world, and all in vain. She was unable to find anything. In her desperation, Ceres angrily stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a malediction on Sicily. Ceres refused to return to Mount Olympus and started walking the Earth, creating a desert with each step.
Worried, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto to free Proserpina. Pluto obeyed, but before letting her go he made her eat six pomegranate seeds, because those who have eaten the food of the dead could not return to the world of the living. This meant that she would have to live six months of each year with him, and stay the rest with her mother. More on Proserpina
Simone Pignoni (April 17, 1611 – December 16, 1698) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period.
He is best known for painting in a style reminiscent of the morbidly sensual Furini. Reflective of this obsession in his self-portrait, c. 1650, in which he depicts himself building up a plump naked female from a skeleton.
Described as endowed with a “bizarre and amenable intelligence”, Pignoni apparently had a late-life conversion to more pious painting. There is one episode recalled that during a serious illness “because in his life he had focused on studying about female forms, and (now) having resigned himself to the impending infinity, his spiritual father urged him to purge those errors with the flame, and once guided by a good disposition, he suddenly was cured by the Lord.” Baldinucci’s biography of Furini also recorded a similar, near-death renunciation of his art of the naked figure.
Among his more conventional works are a St. Agatha cured by St. Peter (attributed); a St. Louis providing a banquet for the poor (c. 1682); and a Madonna and child in glory with archangels Saints Michael and Raphael in battle armor and San Antonio of Padua. He painted an Allegory of Peace in Palazzo Vecchio. A Penitent Magdalen that has been attributed to Pignoni is found in the Pitti Palace. In San Bartolomeo in Monteoliveto, he painted a Madonna appearing to Blessed Bernardo Tolomeo. More on Simone Pignoni