Sprites are spirits or fairies of various sorts. They are often identified with certain geographies or habitats such as water and forests. In my mind, it is hard to separate them cleanly from such beings as naiads, dryads, and nymphs. They are not always shown as feminine in gender. The following painting by Ernst Josephson is nondescript enough to draw in the imagination of the viewer. One reference interpreted “Nacken” as “The Water Sprite” and cited the year of completion as 1884 as opposed to the date given in the caption. I am not an art scholar, so I can verify neither.
Here are a couple of additional offerings titled, “The Foam Sprite”…
…and “Singing Sprite” by Herbert James Draper, a Pre-Raphaelite artist.
In closing, I must admit that the following painting by Draper is what inspired the use of the Mountain Sprite in one of my own attempts at an epic story poem. I would describe her as attractively insubstantial, and she was a character which I could use for some spiritual symbolism.
I have noted in posts from my Literary Legislation and Mythology on Canvas categories (black strip on the left of this page) that female characters from mythology are often visualized as wearing nothing or next to nothing. One could ascribe various meanings to this or offer different explanations as to why this is the case.
After reviewing so many paintings by various Pre-Raphaelite artists, I was struck by some similarities I would like to review through two sets of paintings which I have titled The Power of Three and Out of the Tree.
The Power of Three
The use of three central figures seems to recur quite a bit. I wonder if this number is the highest that can maximize visual impact while avoiding clutter. In this sense, the careful arrangement of three can be elegant.
Out of the Tree
There is something artistically appealing about the lines of a human figure blending with or emerging from the lines of a tree trunk and branches.
The only way I can think of to conclude this series and segway into other topics is to quote Monty Python. “And now for something completely different…”
Clyties of the Mist by Herbert James Draper is, to me, an interesting concept painting. “Clyties” can have various meanings, but stands for mountain sprites (or mountain spirits) in this instance. The composition makes use of three figures (as we have seen in examples from previous posts), and this draws the eye. The graceful, windswept, dance-like poses blend with or emerge from the swirling mist while light from above and a background of rugged mountain scenery contribute to the effect. This painting evokes untold stories. Again, what is implied or not shown lends power to the work.