Androgynous Allegory

- A Visual Chautauqua J.W. Richter

Fig. 1: Androgynous Allegory as an Avatar

Designing a visual Chautaugua
Designing an avatar may be restricted to an allegoric symbol, explaining itself. You could start by selecting or designing a painting in which you recognize yourself, your alter ego or something to look up to – combining it with some sort of visual Chautauqua, an old-time silent talk to explain and entertain, improving the mind of the listener – trying to improve things in a world of exploding nuclear vessels, collapsing monetary systems, in which silly old politicians are enjoying their Bunga-Bunga parties...

Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Painting allegoric symbols in the style of mannerism has been done in the past by Giuseppe Arcimboldo1 - an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books — famous for painting representations of these objects on the canvas arranged in such a way that the whole collection of objects formed a recognizable likeness of the portrait subject. I found some of his masterpieces at my visit to Vienna in 2009, such as The Fire, and analyzed some other portraits he had made – searching for some best-fit symbols for my ideas.

Fig. 2: The Fire (1566) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (own photograph)
Giuseppe Arcimboldo 1566: The Fire, Oil on Wood, 66,5 x 50,8 cm, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Gemäldegalerie, Inv.Nr. 1585 public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or fewer. 1 also spelled Arcimboldi (1527 – July 11, 1593)

The Sample Avatar
A few years earlier I already had discovered a sample avatar, which may have been attributed to Giuseppe Arcimboldo or one of his colleagues. I discovered the painting at some tricycles in the Cluss Garden in Ludwigsburg, which had it painted on a sideboard of the tricycles. The painting must have been an advertisement for artwork in a theater or dancing manifestation. I searched the web for some samples and found an excellent photograph in a 2007-review of the Theatersommer im Cluss-Garten, but the website did not mention the original title and artist. So I decided to paint my own version of this masterpiece, but also allowed me to adapt some of the details to my own ideas.

Fig. 3: advertisement painted on a sideboard of the tricycles
Source: the 2007-review of the Theatersommer im Cluss-Garten

Especially the upper section of the master painting seemed to be damaged by a great number of white scratches, which certainly indicated it cannot have been a mayor work in a public museum. Of course the image may have been copied from a damaged book, but any professional designer would have tried to repair these scratches. I liked the idea of a face with a bird's eye, in which a tiny animal holding a cherry to cover the other eye. I also liked the idea of selecting only the lower part of this painting as an avatar, in which the upper part remained invisible to the outer world as a sort of hidden underworld in the soul.

Painting the visual Chautauqua
As planned I divided the master painting in two sections. The upper half represented the soul as an ancient religious symbol of androgynous religion, which had been discovered in the old divine symbols2. To me the garden snail as a hermaphrodite animal seemed to be a perfect androgynous symbol. I didn't really like the homogenous reddish flesh colors in the master painting and altered the colors by darkening the girl and giving the boy a paler skin – to contrast the female and male counterparts in androgynous partnership. Of course I remembered Hieronymous Bosch painted a black woman loving a white man in the Garden of Earthly Delights3 and the contrast black & white probably indicated androgyny in these medieval artworks.

Fig. 4: The visual Chautauquaby by J.W. Richter (2011)

2 Details have been documented in The Sky-God Dyaeus, the Secret Colour Codes in the Bible , The Hermetic Codex , the Color Codings in the Last Supper (Overview) , etcetera. 3 Details have been documented in Symbolism in the Garden of Delights by Hieronymos Bosch and in Symbolism in the Paintings by Hieronymos Bosch

The androgynous Avatar
The lower section of the painting represented the outer world, which in the master painting did contain the bird holding a cherry. In the original a big white scratch in the upper left corner and a scratch in the middle near the nose illustrated the damage done to the original. It did not matter too much for a small avatar, but I wanted it to be repaired anyway.

Fig. 5: Lower section of the Master Painting by an unknown artist

I didn't really like the background of the master painting and exchanged the background section as well. Some of the green leaves were left, but the black areas in the lower sections have been replaced by a yellowish white and bright homogenous area as a contrast to the dark upper section of the mind.

Androgynous Allegory in an avater
This avatar reveals some special symbols, which may remain invisible to the observer of the tiny images. They may need some explications to be read from the enlarged picture. First of all the upper section has been hidden and it may only be thought as a suppressed image of the mind, filled with snails and loving couples.

The Kingfisher
Nothing of these androgynous symbols is revealed in the avatar except the lovers' elbows at the upper border and the orange and blue in the camouflaged “kingfisher”, symbolizing the hidden secrecy in ancient religious wisdom...

Fig. 6: Androgynous Allegory by J.W. Richter (2011)

The Face
A camouflaged Kingfisher
The original bird covering the human right eye with a cherry seemed to be camouflaged by brown, white and yellow colored feathers. I thought of replacing the bird by a kingfisher, which must have been considered as a royal symbol in the Middle Age4. I thought of converting the bird to an orange, blue and green kingfisher, but it might have dominated the face by losing the camouflage and so I more or less copied the bird as it was. However I added some orange and blue – the main symbolic colors of the fishing kingfisher5, which had been positioned next to the androgynous couple by Hieronymous Bosch. This symbolism seemed to be an important medieval symbol...

Fig. 7: Kingfisher and black & white couple in Bosch' Triptych of Delights
public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or fewer.

4 Details may be found in The Kingfisher , The Majestic Singular in William of Orange's Letter and in The Hermetic Codex 5 Details have been documented in Symbolism in the Garden of Delights by Hieronymos Bosch and in Symbolism in the Paintings by Hieronymos Bosch

Triptych of Delights
One of the owners of the painting Triptych of Delights may have been William I, Prince of Orange. It must be noted that the William I, Prince of Orange has adopted the kingfisher as his favorite bird. The kingfisher however has been painted twice in the Triptych of Delights. The bird reveals bluegreen, white and orange colors, which partly will also be found in the original tricolor flag of the Netherlands. The first owner may even have ordered to apply the colors rose-red and blue and/or the kingfisher as elements for the paintings. The previously illustration of the kingfisher with the black & white couple may be identified at the central panel at the left borderline...

Fig. 8: The Triptych by Hieronymos Bosch dated 1510
public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or fewer. The Triptych by Hieronymos Bosch (Madrid, Prado) has been dated 1510, or even earlier 1503-1504. Philip II had the Garden of Delights in his collection.

Odin's eye
I liked the other eye, which belongs to the bird covering the blinded man, who is unable to see anything with his blocked eyes. The intelligent eye is a bird's eye, as if it were Odin's eye. We may be unable to observe whether the bird is picking the human right eye ore merely blockig the eye by holding the cherry in front of the eye. Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. If we are to identify the Lusty Man of Boa Island6 as Odin he might have lost his left eye, but in this painting the left eye has also been lost to the bird. In the right eye a drop of blood is dripping downwards as if it were to symbolize Odin's sacrifice.

Fig. 9: Androgynous Allegory (detail) by J.W. Richter (2011)

6 Details may be found in Patrism, Matrism and Androgyny and in The Hermetic Codex

Odin's birds
Actually Wotan's birds - devouring the lost people – were ravens, sitting on his shoulders and whispering wisdom in the androgynous god's ears. He lost one eye in exchange for wisdom and could not see at all while the remaining eye was blocked by the bird. Therefore he had to be whispered and told by the ravens what was going on in this world...

Fig. 10: Odin's eye – detail from Androgynous Allegory by J.W. Richter (2011)

Spoken Chautauqua
I liked the idea of this avatar and decided to exchange the image in may web-pages, but also felt the need to illustrate the exchange by some documented form of a spoken Chautauqua. The androgynous allegory symbolizes the androgynous religious background, as documented in Hieronymous Bosch's paintings, in the pronouns of our languages, in the flag's colors, in the fertility rites of the Hermetic Codices and numerous other works, in the sagas, narrations, legends and Chautauqua-sessions of the past. All these seemed to have been hiding and to have been left buried, enclosed and almost forgotten in a dusty Pandora's box. The recovering process for these forms of ancient wisdom may be concentrated in a singular painting – hiding half of the ancient wisdom in an unseen upper section, but revealing the blinded eyes of the human race in the lower avatar-section - symbolizing the image of a humble halfblinded creator, receiving his wisdom from the intelligent bird in the foreground.

Other Masterpieces by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
A number of masterpieces by Giuseppe Arcimboldo may be found in the web, such as the following paintings:

The Air

Fig. 11: The Air. Oil on Canvas by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Giuseppe Arcimboldo ?: The Air. Oil on Canvas, 74,4 x 56 cm, Private Collection, Switzerland – 1566? public domain because its copyright has expired.

The Librarian

Fig. 12: The Librarian, Oil on Canvas by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Giuseppe Arcimboldo The Librarian. Oil on Canvas, 1570 , 97 × 71 cm (38.2 × 28 in) Stockholm, Sweden public domain because its copyright has expired.

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