Tag Archives: Ernst Josephson

Mythological Beasts and Spirits: Sprite

With her arms, the Sprite embraced him, pressed her mouth on willing lips, Then drew back and laughed with pleasure, placed her hands upon her hips. From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
With her arms, the Sprite embraced him, pressed her mouth on willing lips,
Then drew back and laughed with pleasure, placed her hands upon her hips.
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

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.

Ernst Josephson: Näcken. NM 1905
Ernst Josephson: Näcken.
NM 1905

Here are a couple of additional offerings titled, “The Foam Sprite”…

The Foam Sprite by Herbert James Draper.
The Foam Sprite by Herbert James Draper.

…and “Singing Sprite” by Herbert James Draper, a Pre-Raphaelite artist.

Singing Sprite by Herbert James Draper.
Singing Sprite by Herbert James Draper.

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.

Clyties of the Mist by Herbert James Draper
Clyties of the Mist by Herbert James Draper

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.

More spirits next week.