30 May 2011

The Wolf and the Lamb: The Tyrant and the Innocent

In Aesop’s Fable of The Wolf and the Lamb, a tyrannical wolf justifies killing an innocent lamb. French Art Deco artist Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939) illustrated the tale in the 1906 copy of Les fables de la Fontaine. Literature and art often depicted wolves as fearsome villains. English author Joan Aiken (1924-2004) used the animal as a metaphor for the evil people surrounding two young cousins in her children’s novel The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. American writer and artist Edward Gorey (1925-2000) provided a macabre illustration for the book cover. In Eastern European fairy tales, the wolf is a sinister creature of the forest along with Baba Yagas as seen in the Art Nouveau watercolor Three Women and Three Wolves by Swiss decorative artist Eugène Grasset (1845-1917). At one time hunted to near extinction in America, very few wolves survived in Europe. Now, Man has become the Wolf and the Wolf  is the Lamb.

28 May 2011

Haply I may remember, And haply may forget: Arnold Eric Say


When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

Dedicated to the memory of Arnold Eric Say;
January 3, 1966 - May 23, 2011

23 May 2011

Amazing Grace: The Prodigal Son

I'll go home to my parents, confess what I've done

And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son.

And, when they've caressed me as oft times before

I never will play the wild rover no more.

~The Wild Rover, Traditional Irish Song


Forgiveness is one of the hardest lessons in life. The Parable of the Prodigal Son or the Lost Son tells the story of a foolish young man who squanders his fortune with high living only to end up impoverished as a swineherd. When he begins to envy the pigs he is feeding he decides to return to his father and ask forgiveness. His father embraces his son because he was lost and is now found, was dead and is now alive. The subject has been popular in art. A Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur shows the son leaving his father in finery only to be reduced to herding pigs in rags. The Lost Son was given a Symbolist treatment by French painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898). Italian Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) depicts the prodigal son as mannequin-like hybrid figure welcomed by a ghostly father who has stepped down from a pedestal to forgive his wild rover.


01 May 2011

Emeralds and May: Spring, Hope and Rebirth

Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. The green beryl was believed to bring good luck and enhance well being in ancient India. Like the color green, its beauty has symbolized spring, hope and rebirth; it was often worn as a talisman. One such piece is the lavish gold and emerald pendant from seventeenth century Spain. Its materials came from Spanish colonies in South America. On its reverse is an intricate engraving of springlike floral and foliate motifs. An earlier pendant was designed by German painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) using five emeralds and a pearl. A Mogul flat carved emerald has a floral motif and was probably attached to a turban or cloak. It was later set as a pendant necklace in France around the turn of the twentieth century. The Mackay Enerald Necklace contains a Colombian stone that is enclosed by an Art Deco diamond and platinum frame from Cartier.