Friday, March 28, 2008

St Bride by Duncan

John Duncan painted St. Bride in 1913. As with most of his works, it deals with Celtic themes. The painting depicts St. Bride or St. Brigit, patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. In ancient times, Brigit was the Celtic goddess of fire. When Christian missionaries arrived, they had a hard time persuading the people to stop worshipping Brigit, so they gave up and turned her into a saint. Duncan's painting highlights the continuity between the pre-Christian and Christian periods, using celtic motits in the landscape and in his subjects' clothing, while maintaining a contemplative mood in the painting.

Also, like many of his works (including Tristan and Isolde), St. Bride was composed of tempera on canvas. During Duncan's time, using tempera was rather rare--it had been popular during classical times and the middle ages but was largely replaced by oil paint in the modern age. Tempera is actually made of egg yolks mixed with pigments. Although Tempera colours are not as deep as oil paint, they do not fade or change with age. Did you know that many of the cave paintings in Europe were painted using tempera?. Many mummies were also decorated with tempera paint. Duncan's frequent use of tempera set him apart from many of his contemporaries and demonstrated his dedication to the Pre-Raphaelite/Arts and Crafts ideals of a return to nature.

John Duncan also designed this graphic, which was used by Patrick Gedde's magazine, The Evergreeen. Does it remind you of any other corporate logo?


Grace said...

I hadn't linked, before I saw this picture, the fact that the same artist who did _Tristan and Isolde_ also did the gorgeous _Riders of the Sidhe_ that I enjoy. Now it has clicked in my mind...ahh, they're the same artist! :)

Starbucks, anyone?

Tracy said...

So great to at last be able to catch up with your posts now that we're back from vacation. :o) I don't recall having seen this Duncan painting before, oddly is wonderful! Ah, yes, the Starbucks logo...great observation, Grace! Happy Days ((HUGS))

Fete et Fleur said...

Wonderful Painting Margaret. I can't believe the richness of color. It's truly amazing. And yes, Starbucks. WOW!