Actual Size (W x H): 61cm x 160cm [ 24.03" x 63.04" ]
John William Waterhouse: A Hamadryad - 1895
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SONNET- TO SCIENCE
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me,
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
Edgar Allan Poe (1829)
The Female Figure - Hamadryad
One traditional symbolic meaning of the female nude is a Nature spirit. One of these, the Hamadryad, represents a stand of oaks. The Hamadryad is noble, robust, and fertile, full of potential: She oversees the health and wisdom of her trees. The trees are a domain - a place - a graceful, wild, wise, and magic place where people go to meet God, to meet themselves. Hamadryads were depicted as Nature's seductive playmates; humans partook of their pleasures, solace and wisdom.
Hamadryads perish when their trees die, or suffer when their trees are defiled - their context destroyed, they lose their purpose. Because of rampant overdevelopment, our endowment - the Nature Symbols - is being systematically disembodied, along with Nature itself. To invoke Nature spirits in traditional treatments, without expressing the present threat to their very existence, would be a lie.
Alzofon Art Institute: Explanatory Comments - Symbols
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