John Collier • Painting, 1889, 194×104 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Nude, Mythological scene, Literary scene
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1889
Size: 194×104 cm
Artwork in selections: 63 selections

Description of the artwork «Lilith»

"Lilith" is a painting of John Collier, was created in 1892. The first wife of Adam, according to cabalistic mythology, seductive and free-spirited woman who was displeasing neither to God who created her, nor wife.

The mythology and romanticizing of the image of Lilith

The first woman was created from earth, as a man, but because she longed to be free and equal to him, not to obey. Uttering the forbidden name of God, Lilith magically disappeared. Adam begged the Creator to get his wife back, and God sent his angels for her. But the woman did not desire to return to her husband, choosing a lonely life demoness. This contrasts with the biblical story of eve as the first and only wife of Adam, descended from his rib. There are many versions of the continued existence of Lilith, but either way, she began to embody evil, nightmares, was the cause of death of children and of female infertility. In some embodiments, it was that serpent that tempted eve.

English romantic poet put the legend into verse, making the image of a demonic woman incredibly attractive, what inspired not only Collier, and other artists to create this literary image:

Lilith-witch, the first wife,
The forefather of the Lord were allowed to take,
Like Satan, knew how sweet it is to lie.
Tech fire hair her wave.

But Collier was the first artists of the XIX century, afford so openly and invitingly to portray the character. Lilith Rossetti – almost ethereal. Combing their hair, she is reserved and cold. Lilith Collier is the embodiment of passion and lust. Thanks to the romantic perception of the mythological wife of Adam in the nineteenth century, for many today, Lilith is a symbol of a strong, independent woman. In effluents from "Faust" by Goethe says about it:

The first wife of Adam.
The entire toilet from its braid.
Beware of her hair:
She's not a teenage boy
Ruined by this haircut.

"Lilith" Collier: absolute evil or the embodiment of femininity

Nude Lilith brushes Collier is in the middle of the garden of Eden and looks at embracing and sliding on her snake body. He wraps around her right leg, grabs your hips and rises to the face of a woman who supports his heavy torso. Golden hair falls down along the body, making the image even more alluring. Lilith lovingly and gently looks at the snake, as if knowing that he was no threat to her.

The composition and idea of this work is based on the contrast of: dark garden of Eden, covered with dense shady greens, the lush and lustrous Golden wavy hair of Lilith. Dark, sparkling smooth snake and the frosted white body of the woman. Caress in terms of the soft traits of the heroine, and the head of the adversary, resting on the smooth shoulder but threatening protruding sting.

The serpent is one of the oldest symbols, with a surprisingly wide interpretation. But Christian symbolism gives that amphibians do a narrower range of values — deceit, wisdom and the fall. It is the serpent was the reason that mankind lost his Eden. Based on this idea, the image of Lilith, becomes simple and clear. This is the source of evil, cunning and temptation, so the heroine may be associated with the biblical image of eve, trust evil in the image of the reptile. But if you remember the Ancient East and its cult of woman-mother, the snake takes on a different meaning. It is a symbol of the goddess of fertility and carnal love Ishtar, it also wraps around the rod of the goddess of the Earth. The serpent is the embodiment of female qualities, a sign of fertility, water as a source of life, and finally, the phallic symbol.

The artist has altered the traditional Lilith as the image of evil and nightmare and passed the traditional Christian and secular painting of the image of eve, disobeyed God. Looking at this Lilith, we can assume that Collier has created a unique way of cabalistic goddess Aphrodite, which was included in contemporary European culture, making the contradictory character of Jewish mythology, a seductive woman and the epitome of passion:

The source of all earthly temptations,
Giver of life and suffering
Invincible woman
Lilith. eternal Lilith...

(Avetik Isahakyan "Lilith")

Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva