• John Duncan: Part II

    John Duncan - The Adoration of the Magi 1915
    The Adoration of the Magi, 1915
    The biblical Magi, also referred to as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth. It is related in the Bible by Matthew 2:11: "On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path".
    John Duncan - The Children of Lir 1914
    The Children of Lir, 1914 - Photo credit: Photo credit: City of Edinburgh Council
    The Children of Lir is an Irish legend. Lir is a sea god in Irish mythology. Lir's second wife, Aoife, jealous of the children's love for each other and for their father, transformed them into swans. As swans, the four children had to spend 900 years on the three lakes around Ireland. To end the spell, they would have to be blessed by a monk. While the children were swans, Saint Patrick converted Ireland to Christianity.
    John Duncan - The Fomors (or The Power of Evil Abroad in the World)
    The Fomors (or The Power of Evil Abroad in the World) - Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)
    The Fomorians are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are often portrayed as hostile and monstrous beings who come from the sea or underground. Later, they were portrayed as giants and sea raiders. They are enemies of Ireland's first settlers and opponents of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the other supernatural race in Irish mythology.
    John Duncan - The Legend of Orpheus 1895
    The Legend of Orpheus, 1895
    Orpheus is a legendary Thracian musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was called "the father of songs" and was said that his music and singing could charm the birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance,and divert the course of rivers. After his wife, Eurydice, died, Orpheus traveled to the underworld, one of the handful of Greek heroes to visit the House of Hades successfully and return. His music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone, who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth in the condition that he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. As soon as he reached the upper world however, he turned and looked at her, and she vanished forever.
    John Duncan - The Messenger of Tethra 1910
    The Messenger of Tethra, 1910 - Photo credit: Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
    Tethra, a King in Irish Celtic mythology, sends beautiful women as messengers to entice princes. The messengers carry a branch of the Singing Tree in which three birds perch. If the branch is laid on someone's pillow it would wake them up and force them to follow the messenger back to Tethra. A branch of the Singing Tree also acted as a talisman enabling a living person to enter the Otherworld safely.
    John Duncan - The Riders of the Sidhe 1911
    The Riders of the Sidhe, 1911 - Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)
    In the Irish language, Aos Sí means "people of the mounds" and Sídhe means simply "mounds". The Aos Sí is a supernatural race in Irish and Scottish mythology, comparable to the fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans. They are variously said to be the ancestors, the spirits of nature, or goddesses and gods. In the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Irish Christian pseudo-history, the Aos Sí are the survivors of the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated into the Otherworld after they were defeated by the final race to settle in Ireland, the Milesians.
    John Duncan - The Sleeping Princess
    The Sleeping Princess - Photo credit: Perth & Kinross Council
    "Sleeping Beauty" is a classic fairy tale which involves a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment, and a handsome prince. The version collected by the Brothers Grimm (Dornröschen, "Little Briar Rose") was an orally transmitted version of the originally literary tale (La Belle au bois dormant, "The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood") published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697. This in turn was based on Sole, Luna, e Talia, "Sun, Moon, and Talia" by the Italian poet Giambattista Basile in his 1634 work, the Pentamerone. Earlier orally trasmitted and writen variations of the story precede the abovementioned by several centuries.
    John Duncan - The Taking of Excalibur
    The Taking of Excalibur - Photo credit: City of Edinburgh Council
    In the so-called Post-Vulgate Cycle, a 13th c. rehandling of the earlier Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake sometime after he began to reign. In Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and the English tradition, A wounded King Arthur orders his Marshal, Bedivere, to throw the sword into the enchanted lake, by which time a hand emerges from the lake to catch it.
    John Duncan - Tristan and Isolde 1912
    Tristan and Isolde, 1912 - Photo credit: City of Edinburgh Council
    Tristan and Iseult is a tale made popular during the 12th century through Anglo-Norman literature and inspired by Celtic legend. It became an influential romance and tragedy, retold in numerous sources with many variations. It tells the tragic story of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult. After defeating the Irish knight Morholt, Tristan is send as a proxy by his uncle King Mark of Cornwall, to fetch his young bride, the Princess Iseult, from Ireland. Along the way, they ingest a love potion which causes the pair to fall madly in love.
    John Duncan - Yorinda and Yoringel in the Witches' Wood
    Yorinda and Yoringel in the Witches' Wood
    'Jorinde und Joringel' is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. When a young girl named Yorinde gets transformed into a nightingale and is taken away to an old castle in the midst of a thick forest by an evil old witch, her betrothed, Yoringel, is desperate. One night he dreams that he finds a blood-red flower, in the middle of which is a beautiful large pearl that could lift any enchantment. After he finds the pearl, Yoringel storms the castle, confronts the old witch and saves Yorinde.
    John Duncan - Happiness 1917
    Happiness,1917 - Photo credit: Fife Council
    John Duncan - The Play Garden 1913
    The Play Garden, 1913 - Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)
    John Duncan - The Turn of the Tide
    The Turn of the Tide - Photo credit: The Fleming Collection
    John Duncan - The Unicorns 1920
    The Unicorns, 1920 - Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)
    John Duncan - Unicorns 1933
    Unicorns, 1933 - Photo credit: University of Edinburgh
    John Duncan - The Venus that was Never Finished 1910-1920
    The Venus that was Never Finished, 1910-1920 - Photo credit: Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery


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