Cultured Wednesday: Diefenbach’s Fairy Dance

Diefenbach was an early ‘Lebensreformer’ and an amazing painter.

Karl_Wilhelm_Diefenbach_-_The_fairy_dance
The fairy dance, 1895

Karl Wilhelm von Diefenbach is probably primarily known for his involvement and role in the back-to-nature movement of the end of the 19th century, but today, we are primarily interested in his paintings.  Incidentally, he was by no means the only painter in the Lebensreform movement.

The paintings of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach carry a special mood.  He painted beautiful landscapes, often the coastlines of Capri, Italy, where he spent the last 14 years of his life, but he also did a lot of mythical paintings, sometimes combined with self portraits.

Diefenbach was born in Hessen, Germany, on 21 February 1851 – incidentally, that’s the day after tomorrow 169 years ago, so Happy Birthday! – and was, according to the Wiki, “a pioneer of the naturist and the peace movements. His country commune, Himmelhof, in Ober Sankt Veit near Vienna (1897–1899) was one of the models for the reform settlement Monte Verità in Ascona. His ideas included life in harmony with nature and rejection of monogamy, turning away from any religion (although he was a follower of theosophy), and a vegetarian diet.”  After his commune had to close, he moved to Capri where he died on 15 December 1913.

The Fairy Dance (presumably ‘Feentanz’) does not contain a self portrait, I would assume, but it definitely has a mythical quality in the very choice of colors and the amazing dynamic of the dance, not to mention the motive.  Just notice the tree branches bending, and how the color of the fairies and their magic dance repeats on the rocky slopes of the mountains.

Click the picture above for a closer look.  If you go to Diefenbach’s Wikimedia Commons page, you will find a good many more paintings of his.

Poesie: Allingham’s The Fairies

Legends of the wee little men persist everywhere, but the Irish have known to be particularly attuned to the presence of the good folk.

This is another poem we have known for a long time, something the girls used to love hearing when they were little.  The fairy illustrations on this post are Arthur Rackham’s, obviously.

The Fairies

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and grey
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with the music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of fig-leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

~ William Allingham (1824 – 1889)

celtic lady

 

The fairy in the woods

If you look closely at the woods, you might find a few little surprises.

If you look closely at the woods, you might find a few little surprises.

Fairy2.jpg

What are you??

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Hide and seek!!!

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Found you again!!!

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This is the doorway to my house, though you can’t see my house.

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My favorite doglilly.

 

Critters and such…

If you pay attention and the light is just so…

‘Tis the season.  Below Mother Mouse in her nest in the tool box.  She is excessively reluctant to leave her ball of fluff, so we assume she has a few wee baby mice to take care of.

Mother Mouse

Our dogs found a bunny nest, as they do at least once a year.  For now the little things aren’t on the move, but when they leave the nest, we’ll have some watchful days so they don’t get near our black lab’ lady.  She’s a hunter!

bunnies6

These days, we feel like the woods are enchanted.  Wood ducks and squirrels, owls and chipmunks, turkeys and birds, birds, birds:  There is a lot of movement among the roots and branches.  And if you pay attention and the light is just so, you might spot…

Fairy featured

 

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