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The magic circle

Painting, 1886, 182.9×127 cm

Description of the artwork «The magic circle»

"The magic circle" - work brush Waterhouse, completed in 1886. It falls in the center of his career and is the concentration of all the artistic ideas of the author.

The theme of magic, sorcery, and the underworld is one of the dominant in painting Waterhouse along with his famous female images. Woman and magic for him is almost identical, they both have inexplicable power, both the power to decide the fate. "The magic circle" envelops these two pillars, forming a collective, but the individual appearance of the sorceress. And this is another feature of the painting is not a literary character and not an illustration to the poem, the play or the novel.

"The magic circle" Waterhouse inside



The picture is permeated with Oriental motifs is one of the earliest Hobbies Waterhouse. In the center of the composition in all growth shows a woman near a boiling pot of potion. She's obviously a witch, a prophetess or priestess. Woman outlines in the sand with a thin cane magic circle around himself, while making it easy, if the staff moves by itself, continuing the line of the arm. In his left hand the magician holds a scythe, which is also known as the magic circle, and a shiny gold pot forms a circle and gives a special rhythm of the composition. In the Ancient East, the sickle was an essential symbol of Royal power, and in antiquity meant the division of the world of the living and the dead. It characterizes the magician as a sovereign not only of the real world and the supernatural. Rounded lines are contrasted sharply vertical, almost real smoke emanating from the boiler.

The woman's face, the viewer is able to discern with difficulty: it is facing a rising column of vapor. The fitted dress gives a fatal image of softness and grace. Black hair up in a messy hairdo that vaguely brings to mind images of Roman matrons. Impression complements a characteristic profile that can be seen on antique vases. Released strands bring forward the coal Association on the way the women style their hair in the days of pre-Christian England. Dress artfully decorated with diamond pattern on the cuffs and embroidery with the image of soldiers along the hem. The neck witch is encircled by a heavy necklace in a snake — symbol of wisdom and cunning. Waist women strapped a broad cloth belt, which can be surprised to discover the flowers. White flowers also lie near the fire.

The magic circle is a concentration of magic and protection from hostile forces. Inside it is closed all the energy women: herself, her magic potion, that is the power and authority over people and the future, as well as flowers, signifying purity, youth and beauty.

Outside the circle



What happens outside the circle, deserves special attention because it is also full of symbolic meaning. At the moment, what is outside is hostile and unnecessary. And just beyond it are all the most well-known symbols of evil, magic and death: the skull, black crows, and the frog, frozen on the verge of the circle, but not daring to jump over it.
Considering the composition of the painting in this way, Waterhouse makes a circle the center of the feminine essence, the focus of strength and youth, leaving all the worst outside of it, at least at the time of the witchcraft.

Monochrome desert and cliffs made blurred strokes, fuzzy, sometimes sharp lines. And it would seem that the sorceress of the surrounding landscape should not attract any attention. The entire center and ideological and compositional — this is it. But this is not true. The landscape is something that is not evident, but is of interest because the heroine of the picture completely alone. In the distance you can see the cave, which sheltered the people, and at the entrance to her feminine figure with a lamp in his hand. To see her is almost impossible because of the impressionistic manner of painting. Her head was covered peaked hood, but it becomes obvious that she stares at the sorceress. People are waiting for the result of magical acts, they believe this woman, and perhaps their lives depended on her words.

The woman-the enchantress in the "Magic circle" is not the only such image in painting Waterhouse. In different years the artist in one form or another returned to the theme of the power and magic of a femme fatale, not only over man but also over the world, giving each character their individual features:"The witch. CIRCE","The witch at the pond","CIRCE offering the Cup to Ulysses".


Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: The Pre-Raphaelites

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1886

Size: 182.9×127 cm

Artwork in selections: 42 selections