The Pleiades

Artist: Elihu Vedder (American, New York 1836–1923 Rome)

Date: 1885

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 24 1/8 x 37 5/8 in. (61.3 x 95.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of George A. Hearn, 1910

Accession Number: 10.64.13


According to Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and the nymph Pleione. Vedder used the Pleiades as his subject for the first illustration in the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". The seven female figures represent the horoscope of the astronomer-poet, Omar Khayyam. The two influences of Jupiter and the Pleiades, connected by the pleasure of the vine, are symbolized by the thread that entwines them. The central figure, whose thread is broken, is "the lost Pleiad."