Tuned in love song: Dido, White Flag
August, the month of the lion, awakens sultry nights, a fierce summer moon, and a sense of romance. In the distant past, romance lived through songs and tales of valiant knights and warriors and the women they loved. I recently stumbled across a watercolor print by the Irish artist, Sir Frederic William Burton, entitled The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864) and featured here. The theme for this painting comes from a medieval Danish ballad. The song is the story of a young noble woman who falls in love with one of her personal guards, the Prince of Engelland, Hildebrand. Hellelil’s father discovers their passion and orders her brothers to kill Hildebrand and a fight ensues. Hildebrand kills her father and all but one brother before dying himself from his wounds. Hellelil dies later.
Although a tragic story, Burton has chosen to depict the final meeting of Hildebrand and Hellelil. The magnetic image of two lovers making their sad farewell on the turret stairs, their faces obscured and their one last tender touch, adds to the power and poignancy of this painting.
As the viewer, I am captivated. Romance, be it tragic or joyous, is a principal aspect of our history and not to be diminished. Sir Frederic William Burton’s interpretation of this medieval ballad stemmed from the breadth of romantic vision housed in his imagination and soul. I am grateful that our world is filled with visionary artists that can spark in us the emotions of wonder, contemplation, and romance.
Do you have a favorite painting, sculpture, book or object that fascinates you?
Buon Compleanno, Soo and Cinzia