Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939) is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the 'Golden Age' of British book illustration which encompassed the years from 1900 until the start of the First World War.
Arthur Rackham's works have become very popular since his death, both in North America and Britain. His images have been widely used by the greeting card industry and many of his books are still in print or have been recently available in both paperback and hardback editions. His original drawings and paintings are keenly sought at the major international art auction houses.
This is part 4 of an 8-part post on the works of Arthur Rackham. For full biographical notes see part 1.
Part 4 features two related books: The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie and Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods, both based on operas by Richard Wagner, that constitute his Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).
Das Rheinegold (The Rhinegold) was originally written as an introduction to the tripartite Ring, but the cycle is now generally regarded as consisting of four individual operas.
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) is the last opera of the cycle. The title is a translation into German of the Old Norse phrase Ragnarök, which in Norse mythology refers to a prophesied war of the gods that brings about the end of the world. However, as with the rest of the Ring, Wagner's account of this apocalypse diverges significantly from his Old Norse sources.
Wagner's plans for the cycle grew backwards from the tale of the death of the hero Siegfried, to include his youth and then the story of the events around his conception and of how the Valkyrie Brünnhilde was punished for trying to save his parents against Wotan's instructions.
The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie published in 1910.
|1910 Cover of The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie|
|"Raging, Wotan rides to the Rock! Like a storm-wind he comes!"|
|The frolic of the Rhine-Maidens|
|The Rhine-Maidens teasing Alberich|
|"Mock away! Mock! The Niblung makes for your toy!"|
|"Seize the despoiler! Rescue the gold! Help us! Help us! Woe! Woe!"|
|Freia, the fair one|
|"The Rhine's pure-gleaming children told me of their sorrow"|
|Fasolt suddenly seizes Freia and drags her to one side with Fafner|
|Mime, howling, "Ohe! Ohe! Oh! Oh!"|
|Mime writhes under the lashes he receives|
|Alberich drives in a band of Niblungs laden with gold and silver treasure|
|"Ohe! Ohe! Horrible dragon, O swallow me not! Spare the life of poor Loge!"|
|"Hey! Come hither, and stop me this cranny!"|
|Fafner kills Fasolt|
|"To my hammer's swing hitherward sweep vapours and fogs! Hovering Mists! Donner, your lord, summons his hosts!"|
|"The Rhine's fair children, bewailing their lost gold, weep"|
|"This healing and honeyed draught of mead deign to accept from me"|
|Hunding discovers the likeness between Siegmund and Sieglinde|
|Sieglinde prepares Hunding's draught for the night|
|"Siegmund the Walsung thou dost see! As bride-gift he brings this sword"|
|Fricka approaches in anger|
|Brunnhilde slowly and silently leads her horse down the path to the cave|
|"Father! Father! Tell me what ails thee? With dismay thou art filling thy child!"|
|Brunnhilde stands for a long time dazed and alarmed|
|Brunnhilde with her horse, at the mouth of the cave|
|"I flee for the first time and am pursued. Warfather follows close he nears, he nears, in fury! Save this woman! Sisters, your help!"|
|"There as a dread dragon he sojourns, and in a cave keeps watch over Alberich's ring"|
|The ride of the Valkyries|
|"Appear, flickering fire, encircle the rock with thy flame! Loge! Loge! Appear!|
|The sleep of Brunnhilde|
Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods published in 1911.
|1911 Cover of Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods|
|"Nothing! Nothing! Conquering Sword!"|
|Mime at the anvil|
|Mime and the infant Siegfried|
|Mime finds the mother of Siegfried in the forest|
|Siegfried sees himself in the stream|
|"And there I learned what love was like"|
|"In dragon's form Fafner now watches the hoard"|
|Mime and the wanderer|
|"The hot blood burns like fire"|
|The dwarfs quarelling over the body of Fafner|
|"Magical rapture pierces my heart, fixed is my gaze. Burning with terror, I reel, my heart faints and fails"|
|Brunnhilde Salutes the Sun|
|Brunnhilde throws herself into Siegfried's arms|
|The three Norns|
|The Norns vanish|
|Siegfried leaves Brunnhilde in search of adventure|
|Siegfried hands the drinking-horn back to Gutrune, and gazes at her with sudden passion|
|Brunnhilde kisses the ring that Siegfried has left with her|
|"The ring upon thy hand…ah, be implored! For Wotan fling it away!"|
|The wooing of Grimhilde, the mother of Hagen|
|"Swear to me. Hagen, my son!"|
|"O wife betrayed. I will avenge thy trust deceived"|
|"Though gaily ye may laugh. In grief ye shall be left. For mocking maids, this ring ye ask shall never be yours"|
|"Siegfried! Siegfried! Our warning is true, flee, oh flee from the curse!"|
|Brunnhilde on Grane leaps on to the funeral pyre of Siegfried|
|The Rhine-Maidens obtain possession of the ring and bear it off in triumph|