Tag Archives: Garden of Eden

Stanhope (cont.)

Here are some more paintings from the second wave Pre-Raphaelite, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope.  The painting below is taken from the story of Psyche. She had unintentionally aroused the ire of Aphrodite when men, aroused by her beauty, had turned from worshiping the goddess in favor of her.  Later on in her story, she becomes Aphrodite’s servant and is sent on a series of impossible tasks, one of which is to venture into Hades. She is one of the relatively few characters in Greek mythology to make it back alive from the place of the dead. Charon was the pilot who ushered the dead across the river Styx and into Hades.

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Charon and Psyche by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

This next painting is a personification, another example of allegorical art.

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Night by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Here is Venus, another mythological subject…

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Venus Rising From the Sea by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

… and, from Greek mythology, a depiction of Andromeda, the maiden who was rescued by the demigod Perseus from the sea serpent Cetus when she was chained to a rock.

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Andromeda by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

I will end my discussion of this artist with his portrayal (on two panels) of an event from the New Testament: that of the angel appearing to Mary.

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The Anunciation by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope


John Roddam Spencer Stanhope is considered by some to be a “second wave Pre-Raphaelite”. He was influenced by Edward Burne-Jones, and he was a close friend of Dante Gabrielle Rossetti. He was also uncle to Evelyn De Morgan, whom I have featured previously in this category.

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Love and the Maiden by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Let’s jump right in. This above painting is another example of allegorical art in which Love has been personified in a mythological way. Shown below is a photograph of the artist next to a portrait painted by his niece, Evelyn De Morgan.


Stanhope was evidently willing to explore themes from Greco Roman Mythology to Christianity. The following painting (for which I did not find a title) apparently depicts the quote from Luke 2: 24 (“Why seek you the living among the dead?”) in which an angel proclaims the resurrection of Christ to the women who have visited his empty tomb on the third day.

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Here is a portrayal of an angel expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden:

Stanhope, John Roddam Spencer, 1829-1908; The Expulsion from Eden
Stanhope, John Roddam Spencer; The Expulsion from Eden; Walker Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-expulsion-from-eden-97032

I will show one more. This is taken from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, another wacked-out lovers’ tragedy from Roman mythology. Guess what? They both die.

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Orpheus and Eurydice on the Banks of the Styx by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

I will feature some more paintings from this artist next week.

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Lindorm

The term, Lindorm, is both Danish and Swedish. Depending on its use, it can be synonymous with Lindworm, used in reference to any giant serpent, or used to represent a sea serpent.

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I’m sure there’s a plausible answer, but I wonder how cultures from cold, northern climates developed mythologies with huge, reptilian monsters.

There is an interesting folktale called Prince Lindorm (also King Lindorm, Prince Lindworm, and King Lindworm) that has been called Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish. Let’s just say it’s Scandinavian. This tale has generated a bit of modern fan art. It has also been portrayed by professional illustrators. I especially like the older examples. I’m not entirely certain as to who did the following illustration. Owing to its similarity to the next one, I’m inclined to attribute it (tentatively) to Henry Justice Ford, but I could be wrong.


You can find various versions of this tale in their entirety and for free by typing in the title on a word search. I won’t provide links due to their number. One element they all seem to have in common is the one shown above. A prince under a curse exists as a Lindorm and demands a bride. A number don’t make the cut and are messily dismembered. Finally, one tries a different approach. Wearing multiple gowns, she insists first that the snake shed his skin when he orders her to undress. He does so, and she removes one gown. This process is repeated until the Lindorm is an almost shapeless mass. The maiden then scrubs away the offending flesh to reveal a handsome prince.

The theme of serpents and maidens is VERY old  and rather widespread in mythology and in folktales. Here is an image which I can attribute to Henry Justice Ford:

The Beautiful Woman Soothes The Serpent King (1900) by Henry Justice Ford.
The Beautiful Woman Soothes The Serpent King (1900) by Henry Justice Ford.

I know it’s not the same thing, but I can’t help but notice the similarity of these images to the Genesis account of the serpent tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden (one version of how all the trouble started, but keep in mind that Adam was also described as culpable in that account). This has been represented so many times that I suffered from choice anxiety when choosing images for this post. I opted for variety, including selections from William Blake…

(c) Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation. Eve Tempted by the Serpent by William Blake.
(c) Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation.
Eve Tempted by the Serpent by William Blake.

… to this interesting, more cartoonish, and different cultural perspective by David-Dennis…


…to this oddly chimeric take by Jon Roddam Spencer Stanhope…

Eve Tempted by the Serpent (c. 1877) by Jon Roddam Spencer Stanhope.
Eve Tempted by the Serpent (c. 1877) by Jon Roddam Spencer Stanhope.

… and a similar but older adaptation by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

From the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1508-1512) by Michelangelo.
From the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1508-1512) by Michelangelo.

This seems like as good a place as any to stop (or would it be better to say begin?).

p.s. For moral purposes, let me say that Eve is portrayed without clothing in all of these examples because, well… she was.

Next week: something else suitably scaly.