Upon first entering my home, many will find my selection of art rather strange, or even lacking a general theme or genre. Among the paintings that adorn the walls, you’ll see everything from reprints of classical pieces, to original works by various artists depicting grand sailing vessels and epic battles, modern impressionist pieces, wildlife scenes, and even faerie gatherings.
That’s right, my living room features a rather large painting where a group of faeries are gathered around a small pond, which I’ve monuted just adjacent to the entryway. What is less obvious to most about the purpose of this image (aside from a possible interest in faeries?) is that it is actually an original painting my mother, a very talented artist, procured more than a decade ago. The painting was featured in the family home for a number of years, until my mother eventually decided to ask if I would care to feature it on my wall for a while. Thus, the painting and its faerie folk now take residence within my living room.
So while the focus of my interest doesn’t have to do with faeries in particular, there are a number of classic fantasy images that I’ve nonetheless taken a liking to over the years, primarily because they have a slightly creepy feel to them. Edward Robert Hughes’ famous “Oh What’s That in the Hollow” (featured above) has been a personal favorite for a number of years, ever since I bought a paperback edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that featured the image on its cover. While it may not be that the image depicts an actual vampire, the slightly macabre overtone of the man with thorns and dog-roses growing over him did serve as a nod at a classic poem by Christina Rossetti called ‘Amor Mundi’, published in 1865, which features the lines, “Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow? Oh, that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term’.” With it’s haunting undertones that bear the mild musk of death, apparently the publishers must have thought it would also serve as a good representation for Dracula, too.
Edward Robert Hughes was known for a procuring a number of classic images, a majority of them depicting nymphs and faeries, as well as other classic fantasy themes. Below is another of Hughes’ paintings that, in addition to being among my slightly off-kilter personal favorites, also offers a bit of a winter theme, in keeping with the season. It is appropriately titled “Heart of Snow,” and bears the curious dichotomy of a thinly-covered damsel lying in an otherwise quite unforgiving frozen landscape:
Another artist whose wintery-themed art bears a subtlety to its macabre feel is Caspar David Friedrich, whose “Winter Landscape” (1811) now resides in the National Gallery in London. Earlier this week, The Guardian featured Friedrich’s painting, with the following commentary:
“At first glance nothing could be more Christmassy than Casper David Friedrichby