‘The Garden Of Allah’
While in the process of writing ‘ The Past Tense Of Youth’ I spent hours searching through the European Orientalist painters at the turn of the century and also great artworks of the 1930s.
Amongst others from the latter period I came across the works of Maxfield Parrish whose amazing Florescent colours really made his work stand out. An American artist who was famous for his childrens illustrations as much as for his paintings Parrish lived his whole life in New Hampshire and his home, also his studio, was called ‘The Oaks’.
A beautiful dreamlike quality permeated his work and gave it a fairytale quality. In his paintings there is also a strong emphasis on photography and it is at times like looking at an over exposed negative particularly in ‘The Garden of Allah’ A very 1930s deco depiction of the east. Soft,romantic and contemplative with the beauty of the gardens creating a fantasy backdrop.
There was a certain similarity too between the art of Maxfield Parrish and that of some of my favourite Orientalists principally in the use of light. Especially the works of Lord Leighton . The visual splendour of paintings by both these arists have inspired my writing and have helped to move my story which begins in the 1930s and goes back to the early 19th century.
Frederick Leighton was, of course, known as one of the greatest classical painters of his time and his work was known throughout Europe.
It is well known that he questioned his own religion and his wok reflected a humanist approach full of mystic romanticism.He was enamoured with mythology and with nature. In ‘Light Of The Harem’ seen her in the centre Leighton paints a very romanticised picture of life in a harem. The beauty on the right seems off in a daydream while her young servant girl holds up a mirror to her face. All around her there is a soft golden light that gives her an inner glow.
As in the paintings of Maxwell Parrish there is an inner peace and a contemplative quality that evokes the imagery of an ideal world.
The beauty of these great works of art fuels the imagination and feeds the senses.
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 26/8/2014