Monday, July 16, 2018

Artist Study: La Belle Dame Sans Mersi by artist Frank Dicksee

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by artist Frank Dicksee takes you into an enchanting world of legends. This iconic masterpiece encapsulates a timeless tale from the ballad of John Keats, drawing viewers into its captivating narrative through intricate and exquisite detail. Painted during the Romantic period, this almost ethereal piece creates a beguiling scene.

Le Belle Dame Sans Merci

Overview of the Painting
In La Belle Dame Sans Merci, we see a knight in awe of a woman in red astride a steed. Her long flowing hair and captivating gaze bring to mind visions of one of the sirens of Greek myth. One can almost imagine a voice to match as the gaze seems to be controlling the knight onward and along. The eternal struggle between power and desire seem to linger there in the gaze shared between the knight and fair rider. At the heart of the painting lies a poignant narrative of a sense of longing and impossibility, of a knight lured into a perilous dance with a beautiful enchantress. The intricate details and emotive expressions in the artwork invite us to ponder the complexities of human relationships and the consequences of unchecked desire. Dicksee drew inspiration from the tragic ballad of the same name by John Keats, capturing the melancholic beauty and mysterious allure of the femme fatale.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci
By John Keats

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
  Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge is withered from the lake,
  And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
  So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
  And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
  With anguish moist and fever dew;
And on thy cheek a fading rose
  Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads
  Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
  And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
  And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
  A faery's song.

I made a garland for her head,
  And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
  And made sweet moan.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
  And honey wild, and manna dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
  I love thee true.

She took me to her elfin grot,
  And there she gazed and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes—
  So kissed to sleep.

And there we slumbered on the moss,
  And there I dreamed, ah woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dreamed
  On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
  Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cried—"La belle Dame sans merci
  Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starved lips in the gloam
  With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
  On the cold hill side.

And this is why I sojourn here
  Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
  And no birds sing.

About the Author
Frank Dicksee (November 27, 1853 – October 17, 1928) born into a family of artists, was a prominent English Victorian painter during the Romantic era. He was known for his romantic and dramatic artworks. His works often explored themes of love, chivalry, and tragedy, captivating audiences with their alluring storytelling. Dicksee's signature style is characterized by rich colors, intricate details, and emotional depth. In comparison to other works of art depicting romantic narratives, La Belle Dame Sans Merci stands out for its ethereal quality and emotional intensity. While some artists may have focused on portraying idealized beauty or heroic scenes, Dicksee's painting delves into the darker complexities of passion and fate. The contrast between the delicate features of the lady and the knight's poignant expression creates a powerful visual narrative that sets it apart from traditional romantic portrayals.

Impact and Significance of the Painting
La Belle Dame Sans Merci was well-received and remains a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences. The painting remains a symbol of the power and tragedy of hypnotizing beauty and tragedy. Through this painting, Dicksee immortalized the haunting tale of passion and consequence, inviting viewers to ponder the complexities of human emotions and the fragility of desire. As we conclude our exploration of 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' by Frank Dicksee, we are reminded of the enduring power of art to evoke emotion and provoke introspection. Through the lens of this masterpiece, we have glimpsed the artist's brilliance, the rich tapestry of Romanticism, and the lasting impact of a single painting on the artistic landscape.  

If you are curious how we study artists and paintings, you can see that here: Artist Studies

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Izzy Misgate said...

Lovely painting. Love the subject and it's colors.
Thanks for sharing!!
Blessings :)

Bethany said...

Thanks for visiting. It's amazing how a piece of art can carry so much emotion.

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