Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arthur Rackham illustrates, "Undine"

Arthur Rackham (September 19, 1867 – September 6, 1939) was a prolific, British, book illustrator; illustrating such famous books as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the works of Shakespeare & the Brothers Grimm, among many others.
     Apparently, Rackham invented his own technique for illustration.  His pictures are always utterly distinct in their almost muddied (though, very precise), muted palette.  Perfect coloring for the waters of streams & storm churned rivers.  

     Wikipedia describes his way of sketching out an image thus:
      Rackham invented his own unique technique which resembled photographic reproduction; he would first sketch an outline of his drawing, then lightly block in shapes and details. Afterwards he would add lines in pen and India ink, removing the pencil traces after it had dried. With color pictures, he would then apply multiple washes of color until transparent tints were created. He would also go on to expand the use of silhouette cuts in illustration work.

     These are his illustrations for the fairytale Undine, which was written in 1811 by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.  Undine has the distinction of, very probably, being the tale that inspired Hans Christian Andersen's, The Little Mermaid.  Undine is the tragic history of a water nymph & the mortal man, a knight, whom she loves.  It is perhaps my very favorite mermaid story...
     I'll save the telling of the tale for a later date, with more illustrations of the watery sprite & her cohorts.

Undine outside the window

 At the back of the little tongue of land, there lay a fearsome forest right perilous to traverse

 A beautiful little girl clad in rich garments stood there on the threshold smiling

 The infancy of Undine

 He saw by the moonlight momentarily unveiled, a little island encircled by the flood; & there under the branches of the overhanging trees was Undine

 The Knight took the beautiful girl in his arms & bore her over the narrow space where the stream had divided her little island from the shore

 He held up the gold piece, crying at each leap of his, "False gold!  False coin!  False coin!"

 At length, they all pointed their stained fingers at me

 When the storm threatened to burst over their heads, she uttered a laughing reproof to the clouds.  "Come, come," sayeth she, "look to it that you wet us not."

"Little niece," said Kuhleborn, "forgot not that I am here with thee as a guide."


 "She hath a mark, like a violet, between her shoulders, & another like it on the instep of her left foot."

Bertalda in the Black Valley

 Soon she was lost to sight in the Danube

He could see Undine beneath the crystal vault

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blue Skyy, Blue Sea

Sailors downing their tankards full of mead & grog, having visions of maids riding the crests of the sea.  Apparently ad campaigners for Skyy Vodka have been drinking too much of their company's own brew.  Another liquor ad, graced by a little mermaid in blue sequins.  ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yellow Tail

How often is a television commercial creative, let alone breathtaking?  Apparently, Yellow Tail is the wine of choice for mermaids...or do they prefer salt water?
      Tails, you win!

Yellowtail "Mermaid" from Daniel Boris Dzula on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sabrina Down Under

Could you use some super cheesy 90's-ness, with a merman named Barnaby, a talking cat named Salem, & a witch named Sabrina?  Of course you could! 
     This was a movie (to use the term loosely), I watched...several years ago now, it seems.  It was based on the tv show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, quite popular in it's heyday...well, not that it was that long ago.  It starred Melissa Joan Hart (of course) & the movie is possibly more cheesy than the tv show was.  ;)  Still, you might enjoy the silliness, if you're the sort of person who does not always need to take your television too seriously or if you have small children.  And it does fall under the mermaid category. 
     Eventually, I do solemnly promise to add the better, mermaid movies that I've seen.  This one just happened to pop into my head at random, so here are the youtube videos, thanks to some kind 'youtuber'.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Merman & the Figurehead: A Christmas Story

This is an old book that I discovered on one of my long, late into the night, forays for more mermaid lore. 
     It was written by Clara F Guernsey (Octorber 1, 1836 - June 20, 1893), published (in the copy I have here, for your reading pleasure) in 1871 by J B Lippincott & CO.  And I really do mean to read the sucker one of these days...I have such a terrible time when I try to read anything online.  Hopefully you don't have my problem with the non-physical book.  I may have to get my grubby, little fingers on a hard copy.
     Why is it subtitled, A Christmas Story?  I haven't he foggiest clue.  Sounds Dickensian.  It looks delightful! 
     Perhaps here, the merman, though he tends to hide in waters more shadowy than the mermaid, will be revealed.  Tell me, won't you if you manage to finish it before I do, let me know how you like this merman.

     Read a short, internet biography on Guernsey, here.

     To the read, The Merman & the Figurehead, click, here.  The book can be read online or downloaded, for free, onto your digital, reading apparatus thingy...which I obviously do not own, being very old school & all.  ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Well, it's true, there is only one mermaid in this category, however, these ads were too witty to pass up! 
     I remember Mom & Dad receiving some random magazine subscription that they hadn't paid for & this little mermaid was on the back cover.  I promptly confiscated said magazine, ripped off the back page & she's been sitting in a golden frame, bought at an opera house sale, in my room, all these years. 
     After all, as to Evian, is a mermaid ever found far from water?  ;)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hans Zatzka Pearls of the Sea

Hans Zatzka (1859 - 1945), who I've heard signed all his paintings with the pseudonym of Joseph Bernard, was an Austrian painter.  Honestly, I have yet to discover very much about his life (perhaps a trip to the library will solve this conundrum), however, World Classic Gallery has put it this way: Hans Zatzka, also known as P. Ronsard, was an Academic, Austrian artist. Zatzka was a painter of allegorical subjects, genre scene paintings, and figures. Zatzka spent many years dedicating his painting to the churches and other known establishments of Austria.  
     Hans Zatzka, also known as P. Ronsard, was born in Vienna on 8th March, 1859 and he was a pupil at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Vienna between 1877 and 1882.
     Zatzka dedicated most of his artistic life to decorating the numerous churches in Vienna and those in Mayerling, Olmutz and Innsubruck.  His religious paintings and altar piece paintings were highly regarded but he was more widely known for his passionate paintings depicting women, fairies and mythological subjects.  Aware of the huge popularity of his paintings of women Zatzka produced many of them and even had some of them reproduced as postcards.  Today, Hans Zatzka paintings are sought-after by collectors as are his postcards.
     It is unknown exactly when Hans Zatzka died but it is thought to have been either in 1945 or 1949.

Pearls of the Sea; Oil on Canvas

 A Water Idyll; Oil on Canvas

A Water Nymph; Oil on Canvas

A Water Idyll; Oil on Canvas

Water Nymphs; Oil on Canvas

A Nymph's Harem Bathing; Oil on Canvas

 A Girl & Cupid; Oil on Canvas

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pliny the Elder's "Historia Naturalis", Making Mention of Mermaids

Naiades et centaures dans les vagues; Georges Jules Victor Clairin; Oil on Canvas
 (Do you see the pale mermaids in sloshing foam?  One has got away from those randy centaurs.)

Of Tritons, Nereides, and sea-Elephants, and their formes.

IN the time that Tiberius was Emperour, there came unto him an Embassador from Ulyssipon, sent of purpose to make relation, That upon their sea coast there was discovered within a certain hole, a certain sea goblin, called Triton, sounding a shell like a Trumpet or Cornet: & that he was in forme and shape like those that are commonly painted for Tritons. And for the Meremaids called Nereides, it is no fabulous tale that goeth of them: for looke how painters draw them, so they are indeed: only their bodie is rough and skaled all over, even in those parts wherin they resemble a woman. For such a Meremaid was seene, and beheld plainely upon the same coast neere to the shore: and the inhabitants dwelling neer, heard it a farre off, when it was a dying, to make piteous mone, crying and chattering very heavily. Moreover, a lieutenant or governour under Augustus Cæsar in Gaule, advertised him by his letters, That many of these Nereides or Meremaids were seene cast upon the sands, and lying dead. I am able to bring forth for mine authors divers knights of Rome, right worshipfull persons and of good credite, who testifie that in the coast of the Spanish Ocean neere unto Gades, they have seene a Mere-man, in every respect resembling a man as perfectly in all parts of the bodie as might bee. And they report moreover, that in the night season he would come out of the sea abourd their ships: but look upon what part soever he setled, he waied the same downe, and if he rested and continued there any long time, he would sinke it cleane. In the daies of Tiberius the Emperour, in a certain Island upon the coast of the province of Lions, the sea after an eb, left upon the bare sands three hundred sea-monsters and above, at one flote together, of a wonderfull varietie and bignesse, differing asunder. And there were no fewer found upon the coast of the Santones. And among the rest there were sea-Elephants and Rams, with teeth standing out; and hornes also, like to those of the land, but that they were white like as the foresaid teeth: over and besides, many Mere maids. Turanius hath reported, That a monster was driven and cast upon the coast of Gades, betweene the two hindmost finnes whereof in the taile, were sixteene cubites: it had 122 teeth, whereof the biggest were a span or nine inches in measure, and the least halfe a foot. M. Scaurus among other strange and wonderfull sights that he exhibited to the people of Rome, to doe them pleasure in his Ædileship, shewed openly the bones of that sea-monster, before which ladie Andromeda (by report) was cast to be devoured: which were brought to Rome from Ioppe, a town in Iudæa: and they caried in length fortie foot: deeper were the ribs than any Indian Elephant is high, and the tidge-bone a foot and halfe thicke.

To read more of Pliny's Natural History, visit this website, which has the full text online, "Historia Naturalis".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Edmund Dulac Illustrates, "The Little Mermaid"

Edmund Dulac (October 22, 1882 – May 25, 1953) was a French artist who came to considerable fame during what is often referred to as "The Golden Age of Illustration", a period of years between 1880 until shortly after World War I.  Even now, you hear his name & you can see the remarkable, Arabian Night-esque opulence of his characters.  Below are his illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen's, The Little Mermaid, which were taken from the book, Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1911, as well as a few other mermaid images.  I love the way his underwater plants seem to have tentacles, like they have a life of their own!  Enjoy!  :D