mercoledì 30 aprile 2014

Beltane & the Maypole

Beltane is the most important celebration of the Celtic calendar. Beltane means ‘fires of Bel’ (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates the beginning of summer.

Beltane è la più importante ricorrenza del calendario celtico. La parola Beltane significa 'fuoco lucente' e fa riferimento ai falò accesi per il Bel, dio della luce, del fuoco e edella guarigione. E' la festa in onore dell'estate che ritorna con i suoi frutti.


The Maypole is one of the main symbols of Beltane. Since ancient times, the young girls used to dance around the pole on which were attached colorful ribbons red and white symbolizing the red and white of the God and the Mother. The men held the red ribbon and the white women. During the dance ribbons were woven to form a symbolic crossing of birth around the pole phallic, which obviously represented the union of the Goddess and God.

L'Albero di Maggio è uno dei principali simboli di Beltane. Sin dai tempi antichi, le giovani fanciulle usavano ballare intorno al Palo su cui venivano attaccati nastri colorati rossi e bianchi  che simboleggiavano il rosso del Dio e il bianco della Madre. Gli uomini tenevano il nastro rosso e le donne quello bianco. Durante la danza i nastri venivano intrecciati per formare un simbolico incrocio di nascita attorno al palo fallico, che ovviamente rappresentava l'unione della Dea e del Dio.

May Pole - A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor - I want to frame the pages from her books
Tasha Tudor
The origin of MayPole dancing dates back to the Pagan times and it was was connected with both the Druids, Wiccans and the Romans.

Le origine del Palo di Maggio risalgono ai tempi pagani. Fu simbolo dei Druidi, dei Wicca dei Romani.

parade of colors

Young Ladies Dancing Around the Maypole
Kate Greenaway
The festival of Beltane marked the beginning of the summer season and was celebrated by lighting fires. Wiccans celebrated by dancing round a Maypole and choosing a May Queen. 

Per i Druidi la festa di Beltane segnava l'inizio della stagione estiva pastorale ed era celebrata con l'accesione dei fuochi. Nelle celebrazioni Wicca si festeggiava ballando intorno all'albero e il rituale prevedeva la scelta della Regina di maggio.

File:John Collier Queen Guinevre's Maying.jpg
Queen Guinevere's Maying, John Collier, 1900

The beginning of May was also an important celebration for Romans. They were devoted primarily to Flora, the goddess of flowers. The traditions and rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane culminating in May Pole dancing, which is still carried out to this day. 

L'inizio di maggio era un'importante celebrazione anche per i Romani dediti al culto di Flora, la dea dei fiori. Nel corso del tempo le tradizioni e riti della Floralia sono stati aggiunti a quelli di Beltane che avevano il culmine proprio con le danze intorno al palo.

Kate Greenaway - May Day
Kate Greenaway

The Maypole was basically a phallic symbol and MayPole dancing was strongly associated with fertility. Tree  has always been symbol of the great vitality and fertility of nature, and the descended ribbons were moved by the dancers in opposite directions. Sacred plant of this festival is the hawthorn. 

L'albero di maggio era dunque fondamentalmente un simbolo fallico e le danze intorno al Palo erano associate alla fertilità. Agli alberi, considerati simbolo della grande vitalità e la fertilità della natura, venivano appesi nastri colorati che i ballerini muovevano in direzioni opposte. La pianta sacra di questo festa è il biancospino la cui fioritura è proprio di questo periodo.

Young women with flower garlands - Kate Greenaway's Almanack for 1897
Kate Greenaway

kate greenaway
Kate Greenaway

May Pole!

martedì 29 aprile 2014

May Day in paintings

Waiting for a May Day, the spring festival related to ancient and pagan traditions...take a look at these wonderful May Day paintings that celebrate flowers, nature, joy and love! 
I love them so much..!:)

Edgar Barclay
'May Day', Edgar Barclay, 1898
Edgar Barclay (1842 - 1913), was painter of genre scenes and landscapes. He began his studies at Dresden, with Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld until 1861 then in Rome, and, from the late 1860s, he spent his time between London and Italy. He was a member of a group of English painters known as 'The Etruscans', who specialised in Italian landscapes. Barclay returned to England in the 1880s, and devoted himself to lyrical treatments of rural subjects in Wessex, especially Hampshire and Dorset.

Thomas Falcon Marshall

'May Day Garlands', Thomas Falcon Marshall, 1860
Thomas Falcon Marshall (Liverpool 1818 - Kensington 1878) was a well-known British artist, painted history scenes, genre scenes, portraits and landscapes. He was also a watercolorist. He was an associate, then member of the Liverpool Academy; he exhibited at the Royal Academy, at the British Institution and at Suffolk Street from 1836. He obtained a silver medal at the Society of Arts in 1840. His works have been displayed in museums in Liverpool and London.

James Hayllar
'May Day', James Hayllar, 
James Hayllar (1829–1920) was an English genre, portrait and landscape painter. Hayllar was born in Chichester in Sussex (now West Sussex), and received his training in art at Cary's Art Academy in London; he painted Cary's portrait in 1851. He went on to study at the Royal Academy.
He was member of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA).  He first became known as a portrait painter but later turned his brush to genre art, often featuring pretty young girls his work became very popular. With George Dunlop Leslie (who also lived in Wallingford at the same time), he painted a large portrait of Queen Victoria to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in 1887.

Helen Allingham 
'May Day', Helen Allingham
Helen Allingham (née Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson) (26 September 1848 – 28 September 1926) was an English watercolour painter and illustrator of the Victorian era.
Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson was born in England on 26 September 1848, at Swadlincote in Derbyshire, England, the daughter of Alexander Henry Paterson, a medical doctor, and Mary Herford Paterson. Helen Paterson was the eldest of seven children. Paterson showed a talent for art from an early age, drawing some of her inspiration from her maternal grandmother Sarah Smith Herford and aunt Laura Herford, both accomplished artists of their day. Her younger sister Caroline Paterson also became a noted artist. 

Herbert Gustave Schmalz
'Queen of May', Herbert Gustave Schmalz, 1884

Herbert Gustave Schmalz (1856 – 1935) who named himself John Wilson Carmichael in 1918, was an English painter. He is counted among the Pre-Raphaelites.
Schmalz was born in England as the son of a German father and an English mother. He received conventional education in painting, first at the South Kensington Art School and later at the Royal Academy of Arts. 
He was a history painter, with a style influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and orientalism. 

Myles Birket Foster
'May Day Garlands',  Myles Birket Foster 
Myles Birket Foster (4 February 1825 – 27 March 1899) was a popular English illustrator, watercolour artist and engraver in the Victorian period. His name is also to be found as Myles Birkett Foster.
Foster was born in North Shields, England of a primarily Quaker family, but his family moved south to London in 1830, where his father founded M. B. Foster & sons - a successful beer-bottling company. He worked on illustrations for Punch magazine, the Illustrated London News and the Illustrated London Almanack. He also found work as a book illustrator and, during the 1850s, trained himself to paint in watercolour. Although he had painted great numbers of landscape scenes from Scotland to the Mediterranean, it was after moving to Witley that Birket Foster produced the works for which he is best known - a sentimentalised view of the contemporary English countryside, particularly in the west Surrey area.

Pál Szinyei Merse
'May Day', Pál Szinyei Merse
Pál Szinyei Merse (also known Paul von Szinyei-Merse; 4 July 1845 – 2 February 1920) was a Hungarian painter and politician.
Born in Szinyeújfalu, Hungary (today Chminianska Nová Ves, Slovakia), he learned painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich under Karl von Piloty. He was a friend of Wilhelm Leibl and Hans Makart. His are some of the earliest works of Impressionism in Hungary and Central Europe.
At the 1873 World's Fair in Vienna he won a medal with his painting Bath House.
Szinyei was also an active politician. He was elected to the parliament of Hungary where he fought for the modernization of art education. He died on 2 February 1920, just four months and two days before the Trianon treaty, in Jarovnice, which passed the town and all what is now known as Slovakia to the newly formed Czechoslovakia.

martedì 1 aprile 2014

'April Showers Bring May Flowers'

'April Showers Bring May Flowers' by Faustin Betbeder
A wonderful cover of Persuasion book published in 1993 by Wordsworth Edition. 
The author is Faustin Betbeder (1847- 1914) a french artist noted for his unflattering caricatures of personalities from both sides of the Franco-Prussian war and its aftermath. Working in Paris, he executed portraying the political and social atmosphere in Paris at the time. He later moved to England, where he set up a printing business and contributed illustrations to the London Figaro. 
The illustration is referred to “April Showers Bring May Flowers”  a well-known proverb in England that goes back to the mid 16th century and was written by Thomas Tusser (1524 – 3 May 1580), an english poet and farmer, in the April section of A hundred Good Points of Husbandry  a long poem in rhyming couplets recording the country year. 

This work was first printed in London in 1557 by publisher Richard Totte. Later was published an enlarged edition 'Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie'  in 1573 in wich Tusser includes a homely mix of instructions and observations about farming and country customs which offer insight into life in Tudor England, and his work records many terms and proverbs in print for the first time. The original text was "Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers", but, as the language changed, it is commonly used a  much more modern version but the meaning never changed (the rainy Spring days of April will bring us the spring flowers of May or patience through the most unpleasent times, like April showers, will eventually lead to beauty, like May flowers). 

Questa è una delle copertine di libro che adoro di più! Si tratta di un'edizione in lingua originale di Persuasione dell'editore Wordsworth del 1993L'autore è Faustin Betbeder (1847 - 1914) un artista francese noto per le sue caricature di personaggi della guerra franco-prussiana. Durante gli anni che visse a Parigi, le sue opere raffigurarono il clima politico e sociale del momento. Successivamente si trasferì in Inghilterra, dove realizzò illustrazioni per il London Figaro.
Il titolo di questa splendida signorina con ombrello è tratto da un antico proverbio inglese:  "April Showers Bring May Flowers " scritto nella metà del 16° secolo da Thomas Tusser (1524 - 3 maggio 1580) poeta inglese e agricoltore, ed è parte di un lungo poema sull'anno campestre dal titolo 'Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie'.
L'opera fu stampata per la prima volta a Londra nel 1557 dall'editore Richard Totte. Successivamente, nel 1573,  fu pubblicata un'edizione ampliata in cui Tusser inserì istruzioni e osservazioni sull'agricoltura e sui costumi che offrono uno spaccato della vita Tudor in Inghilterra, aggiungendo molti termini e proverbi che venivano così stampati per la prima volta. 
Il testo originale era "Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers" (docce di dolce Aprile/portano fiori di Maggio), ma oggi si preferisce usare una versione 'più moderna' della frase pur non cambiandone il significato (le docce di aprile ci porteranno i fiori primaverili di Maggio ovvero la pazienza nei momenti più spiacevoli, come le piogge di aprile, alla fine porterà alla bellezza, come quella dei fiori di maggio!).