Autumn Inspires

I find Autumn to be healing.  Life takes on a distinctive flavor and the speed may be different, but the possibilities are endless.  It’s an inspiring season that delights the senses with colors and smells in a way I find comforting.  It’s no wonder that many artists and poets have paid homage to it in…
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The Horses of Neptune

Artist Walter Crane was greatly influenced by Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites.   His painting The Horses of Neptune is an iconic image depicting the power of the sea.  The god Neptune charges forward with his horses, who boldly rise from the waves.  There’s not a specific narrative that I know of, but Neptune has long…
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Venus Concordia

In her memorials of her husband, Georgiana Burne-Jones gives us a glimpse into the creation of Venus Concordia (pictured above). “After ‘The Fall of Lucifer’ was finished, ‘Venus Concordia’, long patiently waiting its turn, was taken up again.  With the three Graces who stand together at the right hand of the Goddess Edward took endless…
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Melusine

Tomorrow the Pre-Raphaelite Society will hold its first online book meeting on Twitter and I hope you’ll join us.  We’ll be discussing A.S. Byatt’s book Possession,  a book that holds a special place in my heart.  When I first read it I was a seventeen-year-old girl with an intense literary craving.  It was Sir Edward…
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Painting the Soul

At the age of twenty-one, Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote the short story Hand and Soul, which was published in The Germ, a short-lived magazine created by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.    Not only does the story  offer a glimpse into the young Rossetti’s beliefs and aspirations  but it seems to be the only work of fiction…
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The Valkyrie’s Vigil

Seen above is The Valkyrie’s Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes. Valkyries have been described as ‘dark angels of death’, ‘choosers of the slain’ and ‘spirits of slaughter’.  These battle maidens appear on horseback with swords drawn, ready to guide those chosen to die to Valhalla. Usually depicted as warlike and strong, the Pre-Raphaelite-influenced works of…
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Lamia, seductive and monstrous

Seen above is Lamia, the Serpent Woman by Anna Lea Merritt.  Be wary of her beauty, for she means to consume you. In mythology, Lamia is a mistress of Zeus and her affair with him angered Hera so much that she transformed Lamia’s children into monstrous beings.  Grief-stricken, Lamia devours any child she finds, thus…
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#WombatFriday: Miniature Rossetti, Jane, and Pandora

Inspired by artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s passion for wombats, every Friday is Wombat Friday at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. “The Wombat is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!” ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti This delightful Rossetti and Jane Morris figurine is available from a company called Department 56. I purchased mine on Amazon: Pandora (For a…
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Oracles and Sibyls

sib·yl: noun a woman in ancient times supposed to utter the oracles and prophecies of a god. literary a woman able to foretell the future. Sibyls appear often in art and fiction and I find them indicative of female power and mystery. They represent arcane knowledge of the future, usually sought by someone on an…
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Images of Ariadne

She’s a tragic heroine, so it is easy to see why she has appealed to artists. Even Agatha Christie adopted her name when created her alter ego Ariadne Oliver. 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….
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Evelyn De Morgan and Botticelli

Kirsty Stonell Walker made an excellent point in Endless Digressions on Evelyn De Morgan:  she’s such a fascinating artist that it feels impossible to keep a post about her short.  Her work is large, vivid in color, and often depicts a spiritual theme or an allegory.  And if there’s anything I love, it’s an allegorical…
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Exploring Death Through Art

The sum total of our greatest fears is the death of the self or someone we love.  Since the beginning of time, humans have had the need to not only understand concepts of life, death, and love, but to personify them artistically.  When we depict life and death in such a way, it is an…
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Lamia Revisited

Left to herself, the serpent now began To change; her elfin blood in madness ran, Her mouth foam’d, and the grass, therewith besprent, Wither’d at dew so sweet and virulent;  — Excerpt from Lamia, John Keats   I’ve shared John William Waterhouse’s first depiction of Lamia (1905) on this site at least twice, but I’ve…
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Hylas and the Nymphs

Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse depicts a scene from Jason and the Argonauts.  Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas, who was killed in battle by Herakles.  Herakles then raised Hylas as his own. Known for both his striking beauty and his military prowess, Hylas was later taken to Argo by Herakles and became…
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The Persistence of Myth

Myths are not dry, ancient tales.  They are our earliest experiments with metaphor and language.  They are truths nestled within layers of mystery and magic that tell us that we can make it if we try.  Myths do not lie to us or smother us in platitudes.  They openly tell us that bad things are…
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Monstrous Women

I was browsing a bookstore and found an aisle offering boxed sets of movies packaged with the books they were based on. A little girl picked up Frankenstein and handed it to her mother, who rolled her eyes. “You don’t want that. That’s for boys.” I assume the mother had never heard of Mary Shelley….
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To See the Gorgon’s Head

Medusa was once a beautiful maiden who was transformed by the goddess Athena into a Gorgon.  Of all three Gorgons, Medusa alone was mortal.  Her hair was a mass of writhing serpents.  One look upon her face would turn you to stone. Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, avoided Medusa’s deadly gaze by viewing her…
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I stretch my hands and catch at Hope

According to myth, after Prometheus stole fire from the gods, Zeus wanted to punish mankind. He ordered Hephaistos and other gods to create a woman that they would endow with gifts and beauty. Hephaistos created her lovely form; the Four Winds breathed life into her. Her beauty was given to her by Aphrodite. Zeus bestowed…
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Katabasis: Descend into Hell

After my recent post on Dante’s Divine Comedy, I’ve been thinking about metaphorical descents into the Underworld.  The rather beautiful Greek word for descent is katabasis, usually used to describe a hero’s journey into the underworld on a quest of some sort.  It’s a journey seen in not only a  variety of myths, but multiple…
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Poppies: Sleep, Death, Remembrance

The Tower of London is marking the centenary of World War I with a breathtaking art installation called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by artist Paul Cummins.  The installation will include total of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each flower representing a British military fatality from WWI.   The tradition of using poppies for remembrance of those…
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Waterhouse and Transformations

After my post about Clytie changing into the sunflower, I’ve been pondering transformations. Lamia is perhaps my favorite example of a dramatic transformation.  Based on the poem by John Keats, Waterhouse depicts Lamia after she has transformed from serpent to woman.  I adore the vivid imagery of Keats’ poem (She was a gordian shape of…
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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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