Red January: Garnets and Carnations

The icy month of January is warmed by its red birthstone the garnet and its corresponding birth flower the carnation. The name garnet may have derived from the jeweled fruit the pomegranate. A garnet body centers the mid-seventeenth century Polish eagle that was commissioned by Władysław IV Vasa for his wife Cecilia Renata of Austria. In a detail from the painting of a Madonna and Child by Flemish painter Joos Van Cleve (1485-1540), a single carnation is surmounted by a passion flower. The passion flower was not discovered by Europeans until 1610; the new world flower was added to the old world one by a later artist. Italian artist Antonio del Pollaiolo (1429-1498) depicts a reflective young woman gazing into the future wearing a red dress with a pomegranate motif.