Monday, May 30, 2011

Pre-Raphaelites

The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of painters, poets and critics founded in 1848 and I’m a big fan (mostly of the painters). I hope one day I’ll be able to say they strongly influenced my own art (it would be extra good if I said this in front of a huge film crew that was interviewing me for the awesomeness awards which they created just for me).
While I wait for that to happen, here are some amazing pieces by some amazing artists.

Lamia by John William Waterhouse, 1905.
According to Greek mythology Lamia was the beautiful Queen of Libya who became a child eating demon. In some cases she is depicted with a serpent’s tail instead of legs, and while that’s not the case here you’ll notice a serpent’s skin wrapped around her arm and waist, and draped over her legs.
John William Waterhouse is by far my favourite Pre-Raphaelite painter.

Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1868.
In some cases Lilith is referred to as the first wife of Adam but she refused to be subservient to him and left the Garden of Eden. She is also seen as a demon, seductress and all round evil woman. I, personally, quite like her.
The long loose red hair is often a symbol of a wanton, or as I like to think of it independent and powerful, women, and is often seen in depictions of Lilith as well as witches and goddesses.

Lady Godiva by John Collier, 1898.
According to legend, Lady Godiva rode naked through Coventry to get her husband to lift the oppressive taxes he had imposed.

The Lady of Shallot by William Holman Hunt, 1905.
A ballad by Lord Alfred Tennyson, The Lady of Shallot is a sad tale of a Lady somehow cursed and so remains inside her tower only experiencing the world through a reflection in a mirror.
“I am half sick of shadows,” said the Lady of Shallot.

Cymon and Iphigenia by John Everett Millais, 1848.
While Iphigenia is a figure in Greek mythology (the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra) the story of Cymon and Iphigenia comes from a novella from Boccaccio’s Decameron.
It’s pretty much a sleeping beauty story about the power of love.

Romeo and Juliet by Ford Maddox Brown, 1870.
We all know the story, star crossed lovers ends in death. Shakespeare sure does know how to tell a good yarn, but as is true of most of his stories (and most of anyone’s stories these days), he wasn’t the first to tell it. Pyramus and Thisbe is a similar tale that can be found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses way back in ancient Rome and there are probably a gazillion other versions before and after the oh so popular Shakespeare.

Ariadne by Evelyn De Morgan, 1877.
Ariadne was the Daughter of King Minos. She helped Theseus slay the Minotaur and was dumped on some island for her trouble. Luckily she was found there by the god Dionysus and they fell in love. Surprisingly he turns out to be the most faithful and devoted of the Greek gods.

Medea by Frederick Sandys, 1868.
Medea was a witch in Greek myth who betrayed her family for the hero Jason. She and Jason married and had two children but eventually Jason abandoned her. In Euripides version of events she gained her revenge by killing their two children.

Princess Sabra being led to the Dragon by Edward Burne-Jones, 1866.
Princess Sabra is the latest victim to be sacrificed to the dragon in order to acquire water from the spring it nests in. Sabra will be saved and the Dragon slain by Saint George.

Oh such pretty paintings, hope you like them.
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