Some at the times you can be really excited with small but as the same time big discoveries, those which make yourself realise how many things still can be learned. In this case the discovery is an English illustrator Pre-Raphaelite woman from XIX century called Amy Maud Tindal Atkinson. In my opinion her talent had been hidden by the fact that she was a woman . I am fascinated by the Pre-Raphaelites and as you may remember all the entries in my block related to the interpretation of the television serial "Lost" whose came from the visions that William Blake as a painter gave of Dante and Milton and no doubt whatsoever that he was a precursor of Pre-Raphaelites.
Basically by chance I came across a painting by this artist called “Ariel”, from 1915, in which is represented a character of a Shakespeare's play "The Tempest". It was at one time with the Maas Gallery in London and is now in a private collection of Sam Elliot. This painting has been reproduced commercially on several recent book jackets including “The Fairyland Companion” and “The Fairy Garden” by Beatrice Phillpotts and as well in the front cover of the french edition dated from 1983 of the book Les aventures de Tom Bombadil, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
I was fascinated by the manner this artist captured the essence of the Shakespeare's character, Ariel, whom at the same time is an omnipotent spirit but as well has a will at the disposal of human being, by the principal caracter of the play, Prospero. Maud Tindal Atkinson, perfectly understood this double nature of Ariel. On the one hand Ariel represents the cationic energies and the telluric powers for which the tree get in contact with its roofs . But at the same time Ariel is as perfectly symbolised during the Middle Age as an air spirit. This symbolism is perfectly synthesised in the picture , surely Ariel is and angel with roofs, a fairy which was not born, simply flourished.
I must confess that all of this came out of my head, after I watched the film “Photographing Fairies” (1997), a film which made me realised something really evident which probably nobody pay attention to, and this is the fact that the Fairies are basically dragonflys or the other way round. In resume the film is based on the story of the famous fairies of Cottingley, photographed by two little girls using their mother's camera, a story that deeply kept fascinated an Arthur Conan Doyle. In the film, there is a special link between the fairies and a tree but is difficult to know if basically they lived there of they were the tree's fruits. I was so fascinated by the capacity of this artist to represent the extent to which the earth flies, that I have tried to look for more information about her, but very little can be found.
I thought as well that the fairies are related to dragonflies as stated in their name, they are dragons, telluric animals par excellence, flying animals.
Amy Maud Tindal Atkinson was born at Shortlands, near Bromley in Kent on 26 November 1875, to Henry Tindal Atkinson, a county judge and his wife Marion Lewis. She had no children and it is unknown if she at any time was married and her date of death is also unknown. She had three sisters Ethel, Enid and Doris, and one brother Edward, later Sir Edward, Hale Tindal Atkinson, who served as the Director of Public Prosecutions form 1930 to 1937
She exhibited fifteen paintings at the Royal Academy from 1906 to 1937, but, like most work of the period, these are not reproduced in the catalogues. John Byam Liston Shaw, known as Byam Shaw, was co-principal of the Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art in London in which Ethel Tindal Atkinson, Maud’s sister, worked as the secretary. The School was founded in 1910. Prior to that, Byam Shaw and Rex Vicat Cole taught together in the Art Department of Kings College for Women,in Kensington, and Maud Tindal Atkinson studied there with Byam Shaw. Byam Shaw employed a Pre-Raphaelite style in some of his paintings and was also highly successful as a book illustrator. In 1906, Byam Shaw exhibited at the Royal Academy a full-length watercolour portrait of her, entitled "Maud, Daughter of His Honour Judge Tindal Atkinson." The painting is reproduced in Rex Vicat Cole's Art and Life of Byam Shaw (London: Seeley Service, 1932), with the following commentary: “[This work] a water-colour is life-size, of a beautiful sitter, one of his students; her portrait appears in many illustrations [by Byam Shaw] of this and a later period, and in the picture entitled "The Caged Bird" and in the wistful face of the girl to the right of the picture "The New Voice". Her natural charm, added to a gift for understanding what was in the artist's mind, as well as an admiration for his work and sympathetic help, made her a valued friend and an ideal sitter."(p.142).
"The New Voice", reproduced by Cole (p.158) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1909. In it, Maud Tindal Atkinson appears naked to the waist: it is a strikingly eroticised portrayal unintentionally reminiscent of soft pornography of the Edwardian era, and indicates that the Judge's glamorous daughter was by no means hidebound by Edwardian convention. This bizarre painting, somewhat similar to works of a decade earlier by the German painter Arnold Boecklin, represents 'a group of pagans' in the evening light (rather similar to those in early productions of Ravel's Diaghilev ballet 'Daphnis and Chloe', 1912) who suddenly notice the diminutive figure of St John the Baptist on a distant hillside, proclaiming the Christian message. Byam Shaw was a committed Anglican and doubtless painted the work as a sincere contribution to Christian art; yet its erotic elements outstrip its moralising intentions, leaving a distinctly ambivalent impression on the viewer. Byam Shaw placed his signature in a cartouche in the shape of a scroll, giving rise to the nickname 'the Scroll School' for himself and his friends Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale and Frank Cadogan Cowper. Maud Tindal Atkinson used a similar device to support her own signature on works in watercolour.
That is all, so finally I would deeply appreciated if any reader of this bloc knows anything else about this artist will share with me, many thanks in advance.