Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The White Eagle




This is one of my favorite paintings I ever did, even though it's now 24 years old. It's from a forgotten book by a forgotten author: "The Secret Power" by British author Marie Corelli. I have been a Corelli fan ever since I found one of her extravagant fantasy novels in a used book sale back in the 1960s. "The Secret Power" was published in 1921. Corelli was very popular during her lifetime (she lived from 1855-1924) and I have most of her published works.

She was a science fiction writer before the genre had been invented, and she wrote thrilling fantasy back in the 1880s and 1890s. I have illustrated many a fantasy scene from her work, but this is the only one I did from her science fiction tales. The character depicted is named "Morgana Royal," and she is a tiny girl with dazzling golden hair that reaches almost to her knees. She is impossibly rich (the heiress daughter of an Andrew Carnegie analog) and impossibly brilliant, an engineer and inventor who has designed an ornithopter airship, the "White Eagle." She almost always dresses in white (as did Marie Corelli herself) and she wears a snow-white flight suit decorated with diamonds. Morgana is quite a tease, but she rejects the advances of numerous men smitten with her. She is in search of a mythical, mystical "Golden City" where a race of super-people (who look like her) are hidden somewhere in the Middle East.

As far as I know, I am the only modern fan of Marie Corelli. In her day, Queen Victoria loved her work. Corelli also was quite "racy" for her time, with plenty of erotic energy in her characters and storylines. Her lavish descriptions make her works an illustrator's dream. I sold this painting to a couple of fans who didn't know anything about Corelli or the book, they just loved the colors and the character.

I never thought I'd see Victoriana become science fiction, but now in the era of "Steampunk" I see lots of things that tempt me to revisit Marie Corelli and her works of fantastic and occult fiction. Is it legitimate to return to the stuff that inspired you when you didn't know any better?

"Morgana and the White Eagle" is acrylic on illustration board, 13" x 22", February 1986.

6 comments:

Tristan Alexander said...

I love this, never saw it before. But it does seem empty in the top (where is the book title?). I think you should do some steampunk, you would be good at it! So, will you do prints of this one?

Tristan Alexander said...

I love this one,never seen it before. But the top looks empty (where is the book title?) You should do steampunk, I think you would be good at it! Will you make prints of this one?

Mary said...

I like the expanse of sky, and I think a title would sort of spoil it...

I've never heard of Marie Corelli, but I'll be on the lookout now...

I think this would be a great time to revisit. Do you read this blog? The author periodically reviews science fiction, fantasy, and horror from this era, and it must be popular right now, because a lot of it is getting re-issued, apparently.

TimikaE_Harkey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pyracantha said...

Damn chinese spam, they are a plague on us Blogspotters. Any way to get rid of them?

Tristan, I will try to make prints and if they are good quality, I will make them available.
Yes, the top is empty because that's where the title and author name, etc. go.

Mary, thanks for the link to that blog. I love blogs by literate scientists.

Tristan Alexander said...

feel free to remove one of my repea posts. It did not show up so I re did it. sorry!