What's your sign?

First, some background...

Western astrology is believed to have been founded by Ptolemy, an Egyptian astronomer in the 2nd century, with the release of his extensive manuscript on ancient astrology entitled The Tetrabiblos or “four books.” Ptolemy’s explanation of the earth as the fixed centre of the universe stood firm for over a millennium and was even an accepted doctrine of the Catholic Church, until Copernicus and Galileo presented the sun-centred system in its place in the 17th century. Western astrology, as we know it today, is based on the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets at the time of birth.

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Read below to check if your sign rings true and what artist shares your temperament.

LAL304848 Phrixus and Helle are rescued by a flying ram with golden fleece/ Look and Learn
LAL304848 Phrixus and Helle are rescued by a flying ram with golden fleece/ Look and Learn

Aries (March 21 – April 20)

Symbolized by the ram, an animal known for great courage, Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac which begins at the Spring Equinox. Aries arises from the Greek myth whereby the King of Thessaly’s children, upon being abused by their stepmother, were rescued by a ram with a golden fleece. Goya's Los Caprichos series, a critique of the foolishness of 18th century Spanish society, are the perfect example of Arian confidence, energy and wit.

ISG113866 Europa, 1559-62 (oil on canvas) by Titian/ Isabella Stewart Gardner, Boston, MA
ISG113866 Europa, 1559-62 (oil on canvas) by Titian/ Isabella Stewart Gardner, Boston, MA

Taurus (April 21 – May 21)

Prized for its strength and stamina the bull represents Taurus, the second sign of the Zodiac. According to Greek mythology, Zeus fell in love with Princess Europa and, disguised as a white bull, he took her to Crete and made her his mistress. John J. Audubon, in his commitment to his life's work of studying all species of American birds, exhibited Taurian dedication and patience. Salvador Dali, on the other side of the Taurian coin, was well known for his strong opinions and a stubborn streak.

BRN157058 Leda and the Swan, c. 1880 (oil on canvas) by Paul Cezanne / The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania
BRN157058 Leda and the Swan, c. 1880 (oil on canvas) by Paul Cezanne / The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

Gemini (May 22 – June 21)

Geminis are often associated with storytellers, communicators and youth. Represented by twins, or brothers Castor and Pollux who, in Greek mythology, were hatched from the egg of their mother Leda following her seduction by Zeus disguised as a swan.  Albrecht Durer's reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance period, reinforced by his work in the principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions, is a testament to his Gemini traits of adaptability, intellectuality and restlessness.

STC182246 Constellation of Cancer, from 'Atlas Coelestis' (1729) (hand coloured engraving) by Sir James Thornhill / The Stapleton Collection
STC182246 Constellation of Cancer, from 'Atlas Coelestis' (1729) (hand coloured engraving) by Sir James Thornhill / The Stapleton Collection

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)

The fourth sign of the Zodiac, Cancer, derives from the Latin word for “crab.” In Greek mythology the crab was sent to distract Hercules during his fight with Hydra, and when Hercules crushed the crab with his foot it was placed among the stars as a reward for its sacrifice. Cancer is known as peacemaker in the Zodiac. Cancerians are very cautious and intuitive and although their sensitivity can make them highly aggressive, they are an imaginative and creative group. In a very Cancerian way, James McNeill Whistler's subtle and delicate paintings stand in contrast to his sometimes combative public persona.

LSM370778 Leo, 1999 (gouache on paper) by Caroline Smith (contemporary artist)/ Private Collection
LSM370778 Leo, 1999 (gouache on paper) by Caroline Smith (contemporary artist)/ Private Collection

Leo (July 23 – August 21)

Also known as the Sign of the King, Leos are considered the most dominant, creative and extrovert of all the signs. Leo's symbolism is derived from the lion Hercules wrestled to death and then used as body protection against his fight with Hydra. Born leaders they are either in support of, or in revolt against, the status quo. American painter Thomas Eakins, with his leadership qualities and his devoted support of the new artform of photography exhibited the best traits of a Leo, while his patronizing nature and inflated sense of self exhibited the worst.

BL10658 Virgo: Threshing in August, from the Bedford Hours, 1414-23 (vellum)/ British Library, London, UK
BL10658 Virgo: Threshing in August, from the Bedford Hours, 1414-23 (vellum)/ British Library, London, UK

Virgo (August 22 – September 23)

Virgo is the sixth sign of the Zodiac and is represented by a virgin, often holding sheaves of wheat or an ear of corn, emphasizing her role as a goddess of fertility and agriculture. The only zodiac sign to be represented by a female, Virgos are thought to have an intelligent and controlled manner, but one that is also driven by perfectionism. Jacques Louis David's deliberate, controlled and linear neoclassical paintings such as the Oath of the Horatii and the Death of Marat exemplify Virgo qualities.

STC141282 Constellation of Libra, from 'Uranometria' (hand-coloured copper engraving) by Johann Bayer/ The Stapleton Collection
STC141282 Constellation of Libra, from 'Uranometria' (hand-coloured copper engraving) by Johann Bayer/ The Stapleton Collection

Libra (September 24 – October 23)

The name Libra literally translates to “weighing scales” in Latin. Its main association is that of justice, the scales therefore symbolize balance and equilibrium. Libras are usually diplomatic and charming but tend towards elements of indecisiveness and self-indulgence. A true libra, Frederic Remington's larger than life personality gained him access to a large social network; he counted Theodore Roosevelt as a lifelong friend. His tendency to overindulge and become portly later in life rounds out his libran tendencies.

XIR228211 detail of Scorpio, from 'The Wonders of the Creation and the Curiosities of Existence' by Zakariya'ibn Muhammed al-Qazwin (gouache on paper)/ Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia
XIR228211 detail of Scorpio, from 'The Wonders of the Creation and the Curiosities of Existence' by Zakariya'ibn Muhammed al-Qazwin (gouache on paper)/ Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia

Scorpio (October 24 – November 22)

Scorpio is associated with beginnings and endings. The scorpion comes from the Ancient Greek myth about the scorpion who finally killed the great hunter, Orion. Scorpios are considered to be emotionally reserved, observant, are usually powerful figures but they can also be obsessive. It is often alleged that there is a Scorpio curse, which has been blamed for the misfortune and violent deaths of many notable figures, including Marie Antoinette, Charles I of England & Capt. James CookPicasso's intense personal life with many marriages (and affairs) and his highly introspective, emotional and prolific body of work are indicative of his Scorpio nature.

XIR352367 Constellation of Sagittarius (detail), from 'The Wonders of the Creation and Curiosities of Existence by Zakariya'Ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (gouache on paper)/ Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg , Russia
XIR352367 Constellation of Sagittarius (detail), from 'The Wonders of the Creation and Curiosities of Existence by Zakariya'Ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (gouache on paper)/ Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg , Russia

Sagittarius (November 23 – December 22)

The ninth sign of the Zodiac, Sagittarius is identified as a centaur (half human, half horse), also known as the hunter within Greek mythology. Symbolism for this sign signifies the search for truth and knowledge, as well as a constant pursuit of adventure and new ideas. Sagittarians are considered to be spontaneous and enthusiastic however they are notoriously unlucky in relationships and can be restless or risk takers. Diego Rivera displayed his sagittarian nature distinctly, with his controversial affiliations and political beliefs, and his tempestuous on again, off again relationship with fellow artist, Frida Kahlo.

ROD351228 Capricorn, 2008 (gilded birch plywood) by Cristina Rodriquez / Private Collection
ROD351228 Capricorn, 2008 (gilded birch plywood) by Cristina Rodriquez / Private Collection

Capricorn (December 23 – January 20)

Capricorn is traditionally depicted as a goat with a fish’s tail (or “Seagoat”), stemming from the myth of Pan, a goat-god attacked by Typhon and driven into the Nile; with its parts above water remaining goat but those under water transformed into fish. Capricorns are ambitious and their lives are marked by a purposeful pursuit of their destiny. As a child, Henri Matisse decided to become an artist, with his extremely successful career spanning over a half-century. Negative traits include being greedy and overcritical. Matisse was known to be in debt due to his insatiable need to own works from artists he admired.

SCP54033 The Abduction of Ganymede, 1700 (oil on canvas) by Antonio Domenico Gabbiani/ Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
SCP54033 The Abduction of Ganymede, 1700 (oil on canvas) by Antonio Domenico Gabbiani/ Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Aquarius (January 21 – February 19)

Linked to Ganymede, the beautiful youth whom Zeus fell in love with and carried off to Olympus to be ‘cup-bearer’ to the gods, Aquarius has also been attributed to that of the pourer of the waters in the ancient Greek version of the Great Flood. Positive traits for those born under this sign include honesty, popularity and creativity, unfortunately they are also plagued with inefficiency and hesitancy. Abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, an aquarian, enjoyed incredible fame and notoriety during his lifetime for his groundbreaking "drip" method, but also battled personal demons that abruptly cut short his career and life.

PC129072 Pisces, from the zodiac window (stained glass) from Chartres Cathedral, France
PC129072 Pisces, from the zodiac window (stained glass) from Chartres Cathedral, France

Pisces (February 20 – March 20)

Pisces is the twelfth sign of the Zodiac and represented by the fish into which Aphrodite and Eros transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon according to Greek mythology. People born under this sign are often regarded as psychic, by reading your true intentions simply by studying your gestures and body language, and they will trust actions more than words. Pisces are ambitious, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but they can be easily irritated and insensitive towards others. Michelangelo exhibited true piscean nature with his extraordinary understanding of human anatomy and movement. He was also known to have exacted revenge on several enemies by painting them in the hell scene of the Last Judgment.


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