Winged Victory Riding a Tiger
©2022 Fatima Ronquillo, oil on aluminum panel, 32×41 inches
available at Meyer Gallery Santa Fe

As 2022 draws to a close, I am so happy to present “Winged Victory Riding a Tiger”. I have been working on this piece on and off for most of the year, this being the Year of the Tiger after all. The idea began nearly three years ago, when I became fascinated by Eugéne Delacroix’ lithograph “Royal Tiger”. I was researching beautiful examples of printmaking as I was then embarking on my very first lithograph. Delacroix is a painter that I have long admired. His colors are ravishing and the dramatic compositions are operatic. What I really love are his sketches and watercolors, especially those from his travels in North Africa, and of course the tigers. It’s charming to read that he studied big cats at the Paris zoo prior to creating this lithograph. I too observed the tigers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as a preliminary for this painting, the one I particularly liked was named Diana. The figure of Victory perching on the tiger’s back is a nod to ancient Greek mosaics depicting Dionysus sometimes accompanied by the figure of winged Victory (Nike) on a chariot drawn by tigers. It is also a reference to an older painting of mine, “Baby Dionysus Riding a Cheetah”. The body of work I created for 2022 concentrates on the theme of “Borderlands” – that liminal space between light and dark, beauty and danger. “Winged Victory Riding a Tiger” was curiously central to that whole narrative and inspired all the other paintings created this year.

“Royal Tiger” 1829, by Eugéne Delacroix
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Tyger
by William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?