[London]: , 1926. Item #03831
Ariel, Iris, Ceres & Juno
The Title-Page Design for Arthur Rackham's Illustrated Version
of William Shakespeare's Play "The Tempest"
RACKHAM, Arthur, artist. "Ariel, Iris, Ceres & Juno" [London, 1926]. Original pen-and-ink and watercolor drawing, signed "Arthur Rackham" on lower right-hand corner.
The design for the title-page in the Rackham-illustrated edition of The Tempest. London: William Heinemann, Ltd. .
Image and board size: 15 1/8 x 10 7/8 inches; 384 x 276 mm. Matted, framed and glazed (frame size: 25 3/4 x 20 3/4 inches; 654 x 526 mm.).
The title-page drawing appeared in the book uncolored. As was often the case, Arthur Rackham has added background and full watercolor to the image in order to enhance its salability.
This exquisite ethereal watercolor from Shakespeare's Tempest, depicts a pastoral scene with the airy spirit Ariel in a pale blue smock looking like it is spun from melody and fragrance. He is dancing by the side of a wispy, highly detailed tree and is holding a flute-like instrument in his left hand. He looks so happy as if he's just been freed by Prospero. In the background there are some distant trees and hills - a very peaceful scene. The tree in the foreground is somewhat different to Rackham's usual trees as it doesn't have his signature faces and arms within it. It is delicate and light hearted with leaves and berries growing within its trunk and branches. There is a squirrel sitting just above Ariel's head and birds can be seen in the overhanging branch. In the top half of the watercolor, Iris, Ceres, and Juno are dancing above the long branch, each of them playing an instrument - a lute, a shawm or flute and a tambourine.
Arthur Rackham manages with the strokes of his pen and brush to capture all that has ever been and all that ever will be, one beautiful thought, one moment depicted exquisitely.
Ariel: A spirit of the island, over whom Prospero becomes master after ousting Sycorax. He is the source of Prospero's magical powers, causing the tempest and many of the conspiracies in the play, and works for Prospero somewhat against his will. He is an intelligent, capable servant, and is finally freed by Prospero for his devoted service.
Iris, Ceres, Juno, Nymphs, Reapers: Figures that appear in Prospero's betrothal masque for Miranda and Ferdinand in Act IV. Iris, Ceres, and Juno are goddesses from Roman myth; Iris is goddess of the rainbow, Ceres presides over agriculture, and Juno is queen of the gods. The parts are all performed by spirits, with Ariel performing the part of Ceres.