Uhm so this is a boring post about a painting. For a quasicoherent explanation, read this post here.
I’ve chosen one of my favourite painters this week, John William Waterhouse; this painting is called A naiad:
Now, one might protest; I said I’d speak about fairies and here’s a Naiad. I beg to differ. The word fairy comes from the Middle English faie (which, in its turn, comes from French and then from Latin), originally meaning ‘faith’, but believed to have meant ‘enchantment’ at some point in this interesting etymological process. Fairies are wrongly considered to be these small creatures with fancy powers over nature; however, quoting from Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories:
The diminutive being, elf or fairy, is (I guess) in England largely a sophisticated product of literary fancy. It is perhaps not unnatural that in England, the land where the love of the delicate and fine has often reappeared in art, fancy should in this matter turn towards the dainty and diminutive, as in France it went to court and put on powder and diamonds. Yet I suspect that this flower-and-butterfly minuteness was also a product of “rationalization,” which transformed the glamour of Elfland into mere finesse, and invisibility into a fragility that could hide in a cowslip or shrink behind a blade of grass.
So yes, that beautiful creature up there is a fairy. But, back from my useless divagations into my literary crushes, a Naiad is, according to dictionary.com, a class of nymphs which presides over rivers and springs, so an aquatic being which may also symbolize youth. (see how it’s rivers and springs, not lakes and puddles.)
When the painting was exhibited at New Gallery, in 1893, this was its description in the catalogue notes:
The Naiad has just risen, nude, from the stream, and peers between the willow stems at a sleeping youth, who lies half covered with a leopard skin on the bank. Two green water-lily leaves confine the water-nymph’s red tresses. Harmony of pink and green, relieved by blue light on the water. Large oblong picture.
– Henry Blackburn
What personally attracts me to the painting is her facial expression, hesitant, but somehow wild; and this innocent eroticism which seems to build up between the two naked, young figures.
A bit of music today, too. Not a brilliant song, but simple and pretty; thematic, too.