For 17th century Dutch painters, specifically among Rembrandt’s pupils, the classical love tale of Vertumnus and Pomona, in which sly deceit surprisingly gets rewarded with true love, was one of the most popular stories of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Vertumnus, the Roman god of seasons, change and plant growth, became frustrated that Pomona, the pretty goddess of fruitful abundance, contunued refusing his passionate and persistant attempts to seduce her. Whatever he tried, she kept him out of her carefully enclosed garden.
After he finally managed to transform himself into an old woman, Pomona opened up her garden gate and was willing to talk to ‘her’. Of course the subject of their conversation was directed to the theme of love. After the old woman cleverly warned Pomona about possibly even rejecting the perfect suitor, the softened heart of the young girl finally opened up. As the old woman quickly re-transformed herself into Vertumnus, Pomona immediately fell in love with him, which in the end even resulted in a happy marriage.