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The Cover
April 8, 1998

Spring Flowers in Two Panels

JAMA. 1998;279(14):1052. doi:10.1001/jama.279.14.1052

Among the familiar symbols that mark the return of spring each year are the hare and the hen's egg. Both signify birth and renewal, the one by its sheer fecundity and profusion of offspring, the other by a tiny chick that breaks through its shell with all the astonishment of a jonquil breaking the soil. The hare is depicted frequently in paintings, especially of the Renaissance era, but it is the egg that has itself become the work of art. Dipped, dyed, decorated in the most elaborate manner, sometimes even encrusted with jewels, the eggs are often given as gifts at springtide. Time has long since drifted over the origins of the symbolism as well as over the origins of the decorating and gifting customs. But the custom survives, adapted to time, technology, culture, economics—even politics—and remains a creative outlet for the artist, from the smallest child with a cup of dye at the kitchen table to the imperial efforts of Carl Fabergé.