Friday, July 13, 2012

The Golden Apple-tree and the Nine Peahens

By Petar Meseldzija


Once upon a time there lived a king who had three sons. Now, before the king's palace grew a golden apple-tree, which in one and the same night blossomed, bore fruit, and lost all its fruit, though no one could tell who took the apples. One day the king, speaking to his eldest son, said, " I should like to know who takes the fruit from our apple-tree." And the son said, " I will keep guard tonight, and will see who gathers the apples." So when the evening came he went and laid himself down under the apple-tree upon the ground to watch. Just as the apples ripened, however, he fell asleep, and when he awoke in the morning there was not a single one left on the tree. Whereupon he went and told his father what had happened. Then the second son offered to keep watch by the tree, but he had no better success than his eldest brother.

So the turn came to the king's youngest son to keep guard. He made his preparations, brought his bed under the tree, and immediately went to sleep. Before midnight he awoke and looked up at the tree, and saw how the apples ripened, and how the whole palace was lit up by their shining. At that minute nine peahens flew towards the tree, and eight of them settled on its branches, but the ninth alighted near him and turned instantly into a beautiful girl so beautiful, indeed, that the whole kingdom could not produce one who could in any way compare with her. She stayed, conversing kindly with him, till after midnight, then, thanking him for the golden apples, she prepared to depart ; but, as he begged she would leave him one, she gave him two, one for himself and one for the king, his father.
Then the girl turned again into a peahen, and flew away with the other eight…

(from the 1917 edition of Serbian Fairytales published by William Heinemann, London)


The Golden Apple-tree and the Nine Peahens, 2012




To read the whole tale click here

More info about this tale you can find here

Here are a few depictions of the same scene done by other artists.



                                                                  William Sewell, 1914



                                                                Arthur Rackham, 1916



                                                                  Violet Brunton, 1928



                                                                           Bob Živković, 2000




                                                                   Cory Godbey, 2009


                          

24 comments:

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  2. Thank you, Petar! Such luscious color and brushstrokes! You and Greg Manchess seem to be pushing your styles to the next level and I'm honored to see it. You both have a solid foundation of art knowledge and are, almost zen-like, putting down paint as your spirit directs. I'm both stunned and inspired.

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    Replies
    1. Michael, Greg Manchess has described this “putting down paint as your spirit directs” in his Dress Your Marines in White post in a very nice way.

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  3. Hmm, I'm struggling to see if there is a deeper metaphor to this fairytale or if its one of the "entertainment" ones. Nevertheless, wonderful paintings! The warm and cold greens work really well together, beautiful!

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    1. Staffan, this tale is a typical example of the Hero’s adventure type of story. Joseph Campbell can tell you all about it in his book “Hero with the thousand faces”.
      Besides, this tale is quite entertaining as well.

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  4. Even though peahens don't have long tails like the peacocks do, I think your illustration is more beautiful for that decision. :)

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    1. Yes, Tanja, that is correct. Unlike the peacocks, peahens have short tails. But as you have already pointed out, without peahens’ long tails this illustration would be a little less interesting.

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  5. Great post as always! Keep 'em coming.

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  6. Great post! I especially appreciated seeing the reference you looked up of the same scene/myth. Very cool.

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  7. Hey Petar, thanks again for a great post. I really found it interesting to see the depictions of other artists concepts of the same fairy tale. It's very fascinating to see how different past illustrators would view the same scene and how similar sometimes they can be. Of all the illustrations displayed as examples, Arthur Rackham is the version I connect with. I really liked the line work and subtle colors. Thanks for sharing and it was great meeting you at Spectrum. Keep posting!

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  8. Your depictions of the story are the best in my personal oppinion :) We have pretty much the same tale in Bulgaria but it's a dragon(3 headed zmei) instead and i wonder what exactly does that golden apple symbolize. Probably it had to do smth with the historical times - the Turkish Empire stealing the riches from the folks or smth similar i'm not sure. You have any clues?

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  9. Gollor, I know about the Bulgarian version of the tale.I do have an idea about the symbolism of the golden apples but it is quite complex, and it has nothing to do with the Ottoman Turks. It is much more profound than that. However, I think it would be better if I write a separate post about that.

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