Tuesday, July 16, 2013

John William Waterhouse

I have mentioned here before that I am a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood style of painting. I am also a fan of their poetry and philiosophy, but that might be another post.  It is one of the few artistic styles where I see it overlapping most of my gaming interests (fantasy, horror, Victorian).  In particular I am a fan of John Collier (whose Lilith is still one of my favorites), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his sister Christina Rossetti (author of the poem "The Goblin Market"), though she was not part of their "Brotherhood".

Though my favorite is John William Waterhouse.  He rose to prominence a few decades after the Pre-Raphaelites but his style was considered to be part of their tradition and he is often called the Modern Pre-Raphaelite.

I seen his work many, many times before.  I think it had to be the cover of Rosemary Ellen Guiley's 1999 "The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft" that made me want to seek out who this artist was.  From that point on I knew I wanted to have his art on the cover of one of my books.

The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, Second Edition
The original painting done in in 1886, oil on canvas, was purchased for £650. It is on display at Tate Britain galleries.  Called "The Magic Circle" it features an unnamed witch (thought to be Morgan Le Fey) creating what is commonly believed to be a summoning circle or a protection circle. There are a multitude of diverse pagan elements in this painting reflecting the magical beliefs of many different cultures that it is not hard to see why it is embraced by those who like witches.  There are number of little things in the picture that I enjoy.  She is using her right hand to draw a counter-clockwise circle  for example.  This means this witch is up to nothing good.  Her brazier is more Mediterranean or even Middle Eastern than it is Anglo-Saxon, though her hair style and sickle are Anglo-Saxon style.  There is just a lot going on here.

Given my love of all things witch and witchy it was Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites that I associate with my early gaming memories as much as Otus, Dee, Caldwell and Elmore.

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

Obviously I am not the only one.

Magic & Miracles

10 Witch Magic Items (PFRPG)

I feel like I am in pretty good company here.


Anonymous said...

Huh. After seeing the original oriented version on your cover for so long, the title from Rite Publishing looks so wrong...

Konsumterra said...

my local gallery as a kid (Adelaide) has sersi and oracle of delphi originals - lord alma tadema really good too - art school and artworld rag on them but only recently did i learn about the movements political and avant-garde ways breaking from English tradition. Dickens hated them as did many other critics. John Ruskin pretty much saved them.