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Midnight Musings: Book Review

Maidens & Love
art by Sulamith Wulfing

(as reviewed by Tess the webmistress on Amazon.com)

November 20, 2000

Hauntingly beautiful and evocative.

This slim little volume contains some of the loveliest of Sulamith Wulfing's ethereal paintings. I also own "Fairy Tales" and have seen "Motherhood," but this one remains my favorite.

~ About The Art ~

Wulfing's delicate and exquisitely colored artwork can give an initial impression of children's-book illustration (and I believe some of it was), with little to recommend it beyond mere decorative prettiness; but these subtly sensual, often eerie or even disturbing images tend to linger in the memory in a way that is difficult to explain.

Let me stress that I'm not ordinarily a fan of "juvenile art" or even art depicting children, as the genre mostly tends towards a tiresome and vapid sweetness, but Wulfing's work is something altogether different. For all its fanciful or fairy-tale subject matter, it can strike an occasional note of unsettling strangeness, producing that peculiar shiver at the sight of innocence just brushed by a breath of darkness.

For me, her work has the quality of some evocative half-forgotten dream with a message of mysterious personal importance. It's small wonder that Stevie Nicks credited the inspiration for many of her songs to the work of Sulamith Wulfing; it's ideal meditation material for calling forth the fey muses from the cobwebby attic or thorny forest of your imagination.

~ About the Book ~

There are 26 color pictures in all. Each work of art fills the righthand page, while a classic love quote (Tennyson, Shelley, Wordsworth, etc.) is printed on the page to the left. The original titles (in English, anyway) of the paintings are as follows:

In the Temple
Golden Flower
Saint and her Jester
Hour of Visions
The Chosen One
White Rose
Nocturnal Butterflies
Flush of Youth
First Butterfly
To Meet Another
Before the Candlestick
Song of Love
Big Moon
Flower of Youth

One of my favorites is "Veil:" A fair girl with big melancholy eyes and a fantastically, intricately patterned dress sits on a throne in a curtained room, a wreath of large flowers on her head, a sheer white veil flowing down on either side of her. There is a candle on each arm of the throne, the one to her right burned out, the one to her left still lit, with an elongated flame; both strangely shaped by the halted streams of melted wax... How long has she been waiting there, and why?

Another favorite is "Big Moon," truly a species of eldritch erotica: a large full moon makes a pale-rosy-golden circle of light behind a bank of wildflowers, while a slender blond maiden lies half-reclined on the ground, her eyes closed, her long hands in her lap, her gown slipping down her shoulders to leave her small breasts bare. A tiny mouse wearing a crown sits next to her, playing the panpipes.

Obviously I recommend this book. I only wish that more of Sulamith Wulfing's artwork was available in print form, or that larger and more complete books would be published with collections of her paintings.