Sorrow and Sunflowers

Clytie was a beautiful water nymph who loved the sun god Apollo (Helios).  Apollo, however, didn’t return her love.  The rejected Clytie could not move on and her love for Apollo grew into an obsession.  She remained in one spot, staring at the sun as her unrequited love guided it across the sky each day…
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Aurora

A small pocket-book of this time contains a note made by Edward from a canal-bridge in a poor quarter of the city, which nearly thirty years afterwards he developed into the background of his “Aurora”.  The main outlines of building and canal are preserved in the picture, and Aurora with her cymbals comes lightly stepping…
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The Mirror of Venus

Burne-Jones’ painting The Mirror of Venus is a celebration of female beauty.  Ten women, often identified as Venus and her attendants, gather around their own watery reflections.  The landscape is no rival for their beauty — it’s a bleak land that was described by author Christopher Wood as ‘strangely lunar’. The painting doesn’t offer us…
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‘The Dryad’, Evelyn De Morgan

Dryads are nymphs of the trees.  Their connection with the tree they lived in was so strong, they would die when the tree died. Purple irises are at her feet, symbolizing the minor Greek goddess Iris.  Iris is the messenger of the gods, particularly Zeus and Hera.  She is also the personification of the rainbow…
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Image of the Week: Pandora

Dante Gabriel Rossetti is making headlines with the recent news that Pandora will be part of the Sotheby’s sale of British and Irish art on May 22. With a price tag of £7 million. More than one version of Pandora exists.  Each is a captivating representation of Jane Morris.  I blogged about my favorite in the post…
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Demeter and Persephone

In De Morgan’s painting,  we see Demeter as she mourns the loss of her daughter.  Stricken with grief,  she clasps her head–surrounded by shafts of wheat,  denoting Demeter’s role as goddess of the harvest. The tale of Demeter and Persephone personifies the depth of a mother’s love.  It is a myth about the death and…
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Ariadne

Ariadne was a daughter of Minos, king of Crete.  She defied her father by helping his prisoner, Theseus, who had been imprisoned in the Minotaur’s labrynth.  Ariadne gave him the thread that he used to find his way to freedom after killing the monster.  In helping Theseus, she risked the anger and retribution of her…
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Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus

There are many artistic representations of Circe.  Previous posts on this blog include Circe Invidiosa and The Wine of Circe.  Kirsty Stonell Walker explores Circe more deeply in her post Snowdrops, Swine and Seductive Sorceresses. I’ve been looking at mirrors in Pre-Raphaelite art in my previous posts.  In Il Dolce Far Niente and Viola, the…
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Love Personified

Today I have been pondering allegories of love in art.  Namely, the choices artists make when representing the concept of Love in physical form.  It is usually male and I assume that the root of this lies in Greek myths of Eros, god of love, or Cupid, his Roman counterpart. While many today think of…
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The Winds of Waterhouse

Zephyrus The Awakener Come, thou awakener of the spirit’s ocean, Zephyr, whom to thy cloud or cave No thought can trace! speed with thy gentle motion! –Percy Bysshe Shelley “ZEPHYROS (or Zephyrus) was the god of the west wind, one of the four directionalAnemoi (Wind-Gods). He was also the god of spring, husband of Khloris (Greenery), and father of Karpos…
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Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus

Pre-Raphaelite art has its critics. I feel like many of them don’t actually look at the paintings or consider an artist’s individual work. They give it a cursory glance, assume that it’s all sentimentality and languorous women and then promptly dismiss it. A similar reaction takes place when people think of mythic fiction and fantasy,…
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The Muse takes you to unexpected places

Today I contemplate the floating head of Orpheus.  Proper blog post forthcoming, but in the meantime I am pondering myth, beauty and violence. Just like real life, the beautiful and the grotesque often coincide.

Mythic March

A few weeks ago, Grace Nuth posted a beautiful and brilliant idea at Domythic Bliss.  In her first post introducing the concept of Mythic March, Grace describes the birth of a simple idea between friends.  A seed sown during a message between her and Lisa Stock grew into an alternative to NaNoWriMo, with an emphasis on…
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Mnemosyne

Via Theoi.com: MNEMOSYNE was Titan goddess of memory and remembrance and the inventress of language and words. As a Titan daughter of Ouranos (Heaven), Mnemosyne was also a goddess of time. She represented the rote memorisation required, before the introduction of writing, to preserve the stories of history and sagas of myth. In this role she was represented…
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More on Waterhouse’s Undine and Mermaids

Apparently I can not resist their lure and mermaids have become my theme of the week. Previously I shared that I had read Undine, which prompted a post of Undine images by artists Waterhouse and Rackham and yesterday’s post featuring mermaid images by Burne-Jones and Waterhouse.  I was browsing through a book about Waterhouse this…
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Mermaids

Last week, I posted about reading the classic fairy tale Undine, in which a water spirit marries a human in order to gain a soul.  If you seek the enchantments of water-women, then a dose of Burne-Jones is in order: The Sea-Nymph: One of the most haunting images I’ve ever seen, The Depths of the…
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Undine

I’ve recently read Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. Written in the early 1800s, it is a classic fairy tale in which Undine, an elemental water spirit, marries a human in order to gain a soul. It may be derived from the tale of Melusina. (I prefer Melusina, who seems to have a strength…
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The Green Girl

If you are reading Mortal Love along with us, you may have noticed that part one of  the book is titled The Green Girl.  It strikes me as such a perfect phrase when dealing with anything that even remotely alludes to the Pre-Raphaelites.  This post isn’t really about Mortal Love, I’ll save that for later….
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Apollo and Daphne

Hardly had she finished her prayer when her little limbs grew heavy and sluggish, thin bark enveloped her soft breasts; her hair grew into leaves, her arms into branches.  Her feet, which until now had run so swiftly, held fast with clinging roots.  Her face was the tree’s top; only her beauty remains.  (Classical Mythology,…
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Medea

Medea by Frederick Sandys Sandys portrays Medea as a powerful beauty and I especially love the abalone shell included among the other details of the painting.  She’s wearing a coral necklace mentioned in my post Rossetti and his baubles and in these posts at The Beautiful Necessity: The Pre-Raphaelites and “Hippie” Beads and Hippie Beads…
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Circe Invidiosa

Waterhouse is an adept at blending feminine beauty and mystery.  Here he depicts the goddess Circe amidst shades of greens and blues, creating a world that draws us in and mesmerizes.   If you really look at this painting, you can feel yourself transported into Circe’s world:  you can hear the water echoing through a secluded grotto. …
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