“Cupbearer with Ornate Hawk Eagle” 30×24 inches, oil on canvas. Now available at Meyer Gallery, Santa Fe for my upcoming “Mad Enchantment” solo show opening on September 15, 2017.
Falconers have started appearing in my paintings ever since I read Helen Macdonald’s novel H is for Hawk. I was struck by the bond developed by the raptor and its human as each grows out of their difficulties. Throughout art history there have been portraits of falconers from Holbein’s portrait of a young nobleman with a falcon in 1542 to the 19th Century woodcuts by Kawanabe Kyôsai in Ehon taka kagami (An Illustrated Mirror of Falconry).
“Cupbearer with Ornate Hawk Eagle” also references the many artistic and literary depictions of the myth of Ganymede and Hebe. An early example is a Roman marble bas relief bas relief from late 1st Century BC of “Ganymede Feeding the Eagle.” Other examples include Joshua Reynolds’ “Mrs. Musters as Hebe”, Nicolas Maes’ charming portraits of children as Hebe and Ganymede, and Rembrandt’s terrifying “Abduction of Ganymede”.
In Greek mythology, Hebe (or Ganymeda) is the goddess of youth, serving the gods their ambrosia. Her successor Ganymede is the beautiful shepherd youth abducted by Zeus to serve as the cupbearer to the gods.
… the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore
the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus’ wine-pourer,
for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.
The German poet Goethe in his lyric poem “Ganymed” wrote of the youth’s divine love and enchantment:
Wie im Morgenglanze
Du rings mich anglühst,
Mit tausendfacher Liebeswonne
Sich an mein Herz drängt
Deiner ewigen Wärme
How, in the morning brightness,
You all around shine at me,
With thousandfold love-bliss
The holy feeling
Of your eternal warmth
Presses itself upon my heart,
Perhaps my favorite excerpt would be the last lines from W.H. Auden’s “Ganymede”:
But with the eagle he was always willing
To go where it suggested, and adored
And learnt from it so many ways of killing.
―W.H. Auden, “Ganymede”