26 October 2010
23 October 2010
17 October 2010
THERE was once a witch who desired to know everything. But the wiser a witch is, the harder she knocks her head against the wall when she comes to it. Her name was Watho, and she had a wolf in her mind. She cared for nothing in itself -- only for knowing it. She was not naturally cruel, but the wolf had made her cruel.
George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a Scottish author and poet best remembered for his fantasy novels and fairy tales. His last fairy tale "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" deals with polar opposites; the boy, Photogen has never seen the moon while the girl Nycteria has not been touched by the sun. It is Watho, the witch who keeps them apart but they eventually find each other and escape from her. MacDonald and his son Grenville were photographed by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Carroll along with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were influenced by the poignant writings. Pre-Rapahaelite artist Arthur Hughes (1832 -1915) who is shown in a self portrait illustrated "The Day Boy and the Night Girl". The fairy tale edited by Grenville is ultimately about two opposing worlds joining together; sun and shadow.
12 October 2010
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat,
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town;)
Above is a fragment of the haunting poem, Goblin Market by the English poet Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894). The poem which was illustrated by her brother Pre Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rosestti (1828 -1882), is the story of two sisters. Once considered a fairy tale for children it is now regarded as an ambiguous masterpiece. One sister Laura, is offered forbidden fruit by goblin merchants which she pays for with a lock of her golden hair and a "tear more rare than pearl". The other sister Lizzie resists the sensual temptation. Ultimately Lizzie would save Laura from the wicked merchants and their poisoned fruit. Dante Gabriel Rossetti also designed a stained glass window depicting the goblins that was manufactured by The Morris Firm. A portrait of Christina was begun by English painter John Brett (1831–1902). The unfinished image has the same haunting quality as Rossetti's Goblin Market.
09 October 2010
The Masque of the Red Death, a Gothic tale by American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) tells the story of Prince Prospero. The prince was a wealthy but selfish ruler who saw his dominion ravaged by the Red Death. Prospero retreats to a castle like abbey with a thousand knights and ladies selected from his court. While his subjects die outside, he and his inner circle feast and are amused by musicians, dancers, and clowns. The culmination of the festivities is a masquerade ball. Amidst the revelers dressed in alluring and grotesque costumes arrives the Red Death. English artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) who died an early death from tuberculosis, illustrated the costumed court. Later Irish Harry Clarke (1889–1931) who would also die prematurely of tuberculosis, depicted the actual Red Death. Masques were popular courtly entertainment in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. Elaborate costumes such as A Star were designed by British architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652) for the court of James I. Jones was influenced by his visits to the Medici Court which had extravagant fetes. There the Florentine stage designer and theater architect Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608) designed allegorical costumes like A Muse.