Updated: Nov 18, 2019
I was a bit carried away by apricots during the summer, producing no less than three paintings of them! Apricots always look so irresistible to me and the Ancient Persians must have thought so too, poetically naming them "eggs of the sun". Originating in China this beautiful fruit arrived in Persia via the old Silk Roads.
"The Silk Road" - how romantic that sounds! Conjuring up images of camel trains ridden by devilish Arab traders, swathed in flowing robes against the searing sun and sand, their treasured camels carrying precious cargo from the Far East across to the Mediterranean Sea.
Of course in reality it must have been absolutely ghastly. Travelling for months on end with limited water supplies, across deserts, through sandstorms, all under that vicious desert sun. Crossing mountains in freezing temperatures, and having to fight off thieves and brigands desperate to get their hands on the booty.
Apricots have through the centuries been highly prized and their beauty has caused many a poet to grab their pens. The American poet Diane Ackerman wrote of them in her poem "Consolation of Apricots".....
”Tawny gold with a blush on its cheeks, an apricot is the color of shame and dawn.”
Such a lovely description - difficult to capture in paint. I found it quite a challenge to capture that pink blush over the golden yellow.
Ruskin described them as "shining in a sweet brightness of golden velvet." It must be this tantalising appearance that makes us buy them, even when a lot of us (including me) don't actually like to eat them. So often when I've bitten into the flesh, instead of the expected sweet syrupy juice, the flesh is woolly and juice is disappointingly absent!.
Apparently this is due to their being picked under-ripe for transportation. We in the West never get to smell their intoxicating scent, or taste the sweetest flavour as found when just plucked from a tree in their homelands of Turkey and Syria. Canadian writer Adam Gollner, in his excellent essay "The Glabrous Apricots of Tajikistan" describes the smell as "like hybrid cardamom-vanilla-jasmine flowers in full bloom." Wow - would I just love to inhale that! Meanwhile I will continue painting their gorgeous pink blushed, golden hues that look so stunning against blue and get my taste fix from a can!