This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. The decorations on many tables throughout the United States will include an overflowing cornucopia and sheaves of wheat. These symbols of plenty, abundance, good harvest, and well-being are derived from depictions of greek and roman goddesses.
Ceres, Copia, Fortuna, Demeter, all known as a Roman Goddess of Abundance, was a popular symbol in the Victorian Era. Here she is shown half naked and sitting with a sheaf of wheat on her right and her cornucopia, a magical enormous goat’s horn filled with fruit and wealth, on the left. Her nudity is not offensive to Victorians because, after all, she is a Goddess.
Her image is found atop the Missouri State Capitol dome and the Vermont State House dome. A sculpture on the former Clydesdale Bank in Aberdeen, Scotland bears a close resemblance to these bookends.
The artist, M. Rotellini, is presumed to be Martino Rotellini. Martino Rotellini was a “regular student” at the Yale School of Fine Arts from 1908 – 1911, during which time he received some recognition for his work. In the 1914 issue, “Directory of Living Non-Graduates of Yale University”, he is identified as living in New York City. In the 1920 edition of “Yale Alumni Directory of Graduates & Non-Graduates” he is listed as having changed his name to S. Martin Rotellini. By 1921, he is listed in the Library of Congress, Catalogue of Copyright Entries, New Series, Vol. 16, Part 4, pg. 441, as Rotellini & Bianchi with a number of his copyrighted pieces.