Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Alchemical Madonna

This may be, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, one of the best pictures I have ever painted. You haven't seen it before on my blog because my photo of it, scanned from a poor slide, was not good enough. But the magic of Photoshop has made it into an image worthy of publication.

"The Alchemical Madonna" is a portrait of a real person and her daughter. Mother is wearing recreated Tudor noble garb, while the daughter wears a neutral white gown. They are seated in an allegorical space with alchemical themes, since I was studying alchemy at the time. The portrait was commissioned by her (then) husband, and I don't know which member of the couple got this painting. The daughter, a toddler at the time of painting, is now in her mid-twenties and all grown up. 

To detail some of the alchemical elements in this picture:  The alchemical Planets are depicted, with Saturn (lead) and Moon (silver) on throne. A Green Lion, symbolizing a yet-unknown chemical operation, is at Her right, and a Dragon at Her left. A Green Man, symbolizing Nature, appears in foliage ornaments on top of the throne. The yellow ribbons hanging from the bar holding up the hanging in the back of her throne commemorate the yellow ribbons of the Persian Gulf War, during which this was painted. 1991 was a long time ago.

"The Alchemical Madonna" is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 16" x 20", February-March 1991. Click on the image for a larger view.


Tristan Alexander said...

This is a very wonderfully done picture and I can see why you are happy with it. I do have to say though, that from this on screen version, the architecture steals the show! The details and realism of the relief work and columns are SO realistic that they make the people look less so. Again, I am sure in the original there is subtle shading etc in the figures that were lost to the photo and then the reworking of it to make it good enough to post here. Would love to have seen the original I am sure it is stunning!

Robby Baby Dark Poet of Amour said...

One of my fave posts, as it contained much metaphysical and visual elements to ponder. You mentioned A green man, but have you heard of THE Green Man? The personification of nature that occurs over and over again in time all over the world? Or maybe that is what you were referring to. I find the quiet repose of the figures exemplifies and alchemical space space, where alchemical work is being done. I'm curious to see you do more work in this vein.