Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Christa Zaat Catalogue Note from Sothebys:
John Duncan was undeniably the foremost painter of Celtic Symbolist art and he created a world of beauty and romance inhabited by pale princesses, tragic heroes and fantastical beasts based upon the rich narratives of Scottish mythology. His imagery was based upon the fragile maidens of the Pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones and Celtic folk-lore, but laced with the exoticism of European Symbolism and the works of Gustave Moreau and Puvis de Chavannes.
In 1907 Duncan had visited London and had been enchanted by the works of Botticelli, Mantegna and Crivelli at the National Gallery and returned to Scotland determined to try to capture the same bejewelled beauty in his own work. He embarked upon his most significant large oils, including Angus Obb of 1908 (National Gallery of Scotland), Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb of 1909, The Riders of the Sidhe of 1910 (Dundee Art Gallery), St Bride of 1913 (National Gallery of Scotland) and The Children of Lir of 1914 (City of Edinburgh Museums and Art Galleries). Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb is the most important painting by Duncan to remain in private ownership. It was bought from Duncan by André Raffalovich and hung in the dining room of his home on Whitehouse Terrace in Edinburgh. Raffalovich was a playwrite and Symbolist poet of considerable talent but is perhaps best-known as the wealthy companion of the poet John Gray. The jealousy that Oscar Wilde felt for Raffalovich and Gray's friendship is much documented; Wilde considered Gray to be his protegé, perhaps even the inspiration for The Picture of Dorian Gray. Raffalovich had lived in Paris in the early 1880s and was therefore educated in French Symbolist art and literature; he was a great friend of Mallarmé and several other leading Symbolist poets. Duncan met Raffalovich in 1907 when he executed a series of paintings of the Stations of the Cross for the parish church of St. Peters in Edinburgh which Raffalovich had funded. Duncan was greatly impressed by Raffalovich's knowledge of Symbolist art and writing and it is likely that Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb was the result of a direct commision.
The subject of the present painting appears to have been the invention of the artist. It depicts a naked girl with alabaster white skin and flame red hair billowing in the breeze, riding high above the sea on the back of a majestic and fantastic beast. She wears a crown of gold and her neck and wrists are decorated with strings of garnets or rubies. Her jewels and crown suggest that she is a Princess of the island of Obb that she is now fleeing. Her palace stands high on a rocky dias, an imposing fortress beside the sea, and the land is cast in shadow, perhaps suggesting that she is forsaking her homeland because it is no longer safe to remain. The painting poses more questions than it answers and this is the beauty of Duncan's work which creates its own mystery and mythology.
The beast depicted in the present picture appears to be a combination of two mythical creatures, the gryphon and the cockatrice. The cockatrice was invented in the twelfth century, based upon Pliny's description in the Natural History of a form of the basilisk, although unlike the basilisk the cockatrice was said to stand upon legs rather than slither on the ground. It was believed that it was born from the egg of a cock incubated by a toad and was able to turn its enemies into stone by looking at them or by breathing upon them. The only animals that could defeat the cockatrice were the weasel which was immune to it's stare and the cockerel that could kill it by crowing. The traditional cockatrice was said to have the body of a serpent and the talons of a bird, unlike Duncan's fantastic animal. The combination of leonine and birdlike physical attributes connects this creature with the gryphon (griffin), with the wings and head of an eagle and the body of a lion. As the lion is considered to be the King of the Beasts and the eagle is the King of the Birds, the gryphon is said to posses superior powers above the other mythological creatures. It was believed to be the physical guardian of the divine. In heraldic iconography, there are several types of gryphon, the Keythong, Alce, Opinicus and the Simurgh which was believed by the Babylonians to have lived so long that it had seen the destruction of the world three times over. Heptu's mount is combination of the Opinicus; distinguished by having four lion's legs rather than having the forelegs of an eagle), and the cockatrice. The stimuli for Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb may have been an unlocated picture entitled The Shining Land in which a naked girl riding a gryphon is seen in the background. In this painting the animal is more clearly the combination of an eagle and a lion and in Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb Duncan appears to have wished to create a more unusual fantasy,
In 1934 Duncan painted a similar beast, a sphinx in The Challenge in which Oedipus approaches the riddler of Thebes in a wilderness of barren rocks and serpents. Like the princess in Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb, Oedipus is naked, perhaps to make the contrast between primal bestial power and human frailty. With Heptu Bidding Farewell to the City of Obb Duncan created an image which showed that the influence of French art upon Scottish artists was not limited to the influence of Manet and Mattisse upon Fergusson and Peploe, but had a slightly earlier influence upon an artist whose artistic aims were very different, to create a dream-like world of legend.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
John Lucas Tupper (1824?- 1879), who was an early member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and who remained close to several original members of the Brotherhood until his death, today has been almost entirely forgotten.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Head of a young girl, study for one of the waiting women in the painting '"Hist" said Kate the Queen'; turned and looking to front, with dark curly hair. c.1849 Graphite, with brush and black wash
Drawn by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
found this in the British Museum. Lovely early work
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Burne-Jones on a gibbet, from an album of 60 caricature drawings; drawn on an envelope addressed to William Morris Pen and black ink
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Probably the biggest surprise at the festival this year came, unfortunately, when the planned Spotlight evening with headliner Dakota Fanning was cancelled at the 11th hour. (We didn't realize she was part of the government shutdown.) No official word as to why. However, our spies inform us the production company Sovereign Films pulled Fanning's showcase Effie Gray, the story of an infamous love triangle in Victorian times, due to a series of screenplay copyright infringement claims by other writers. Effie Gray scriptwriter-actress Emma Thompson had already beat back charges by Eve Pomerance, author of two scripts on the same subject, one of which had been produced as a play. Another copyright dispute, launched by playwright Gregory Murphy, also the author of a play and screenplay on the same topic, was decided in Thompson's favor in March, but Murphy is appealing and, according to our sources, was able to initiate legal action to bar the screening of the film. . .
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Previously hidden wall paintings by pre-Raphaelite artists that have been discovered at the Red House.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
n anthology of letters written by Burne-Jones to his young friend, Miss Katherine Lewis. Illustrated throughout with the lively drawings that accompanied Burne-Jones's letters. The subjects of these drawings include cats, birds, Katie's birthday party, and the artist himself dancing a jig with his daughter, Margaret.