FASHION AND PRESTIGE: Pineapples feature on St Paul’s Cathedral.
FASHION AND PRESTIGE: Pineapples feature on St Paul’s Cathedral.

Pineapples a sign of prestige

HAVE you ever wondered why pineapples are a recurring theme?

I have; I don't much like pineapple as a food and I wonder why there are pineapples on shirts, art, jewellery and ornaments. It seems like pineapples are everywhere.

Pineapples are featured in one of the new mosaics adorning Kent Street.

The "blurb" suggests that our municipal benefactor, George Ambrose White, who donated money for the construction of the Maryborough City Hall in the early 1900s, made his money out of pineapples, among other things, particularly gold.

The pineapple is a member of the Bromeliad family. It is native to South America, most likely from southern Brazil and Paraguay.

It was introduced to Europe in the 15th Century first by Christopher Columbus, who encountered it in Guadeloupe.

The pineapple had, by then, spread through out South and Central America.

In Europe, the pineapple proved hard to cultivate and therein is the answer to why it remains an emblem, a motif of fashion and prestige.

It became rare and hard to procure and so became a symbol of wealth and power.

A pineapple could sell for as much as $8000 in today's money.

Those able to acquire one would use it as a centrepiece for swank affairs.

In fact, it was possible to rent pineapples for an event.

The rich and famous adorned their homes and other building with carved pineapples.

 

A pineapple feature at Dunmore Park in Scotland.
A pineapple feature at Dunmore Park in Scotland.

 

Christopher Wren chose gold pineapples to top both the North Towers of St Paul's Cathedral.

Purportedly, it was Barbara Palmer, mistress of King Charles II, who first cultivated it in Europe, in her 'hothouse" in the late 1600s.

Indeed, Charles also had official portraits painted in which pineapples appeared prominently.

 

Pineapples on St Paul’s Cathedral.
Pineapples on St Paul’s Cathedral.