I was a teenager when I first discovered the art of Sulamith Wulfing (1901-1989). I found her work absolutely enchanting and spent what money I had of my own on prints and posters that could be used to decorate my bedroom walls.
A Christmas illustration by Sulamith Wulfing can be found here.
I'm not going to provide a potted history of Sulamith Wulfing's life. There is enough online information available should anyone wish to find out more about her, including this Wikipedia Biography . Instead what I thought I'd do is share some of my favourite examples of her work. (This is just a small sample of her beautiful and complex art.)
Two thoughts struck me when I looked at these prints again recently. The first is how timeless they are. If I did not know when they were drawn I would find it very difficult to place them in any historical context. To me they evoke the 1970's because that is the decade when I first saw them and I associate her work very much with that time. In fact, the examples shown here were all completed between the 1930's and 1950's. To my mind though they belong to a time outside time and this is what makes them so powerful.
The second thought I had when studying these works again is how universal they are. Sulamith Wulfing was a German artist, but I don't find her work limited to a single region. The Wikipedia entry mentions that some of the patterns on the clothing and furniture resemble Norse knot-work. From my perspective I've always thought there is a distinctly Celtic influence, especially in the designs on the dresses and material. I love her imagery - it creates a world that is spiritual and ethereal but also firmly rooted in the beauty of nature.
Looking these images across a gulf of many years has also made me realise what an incredible journey I have experienced myself - from the southernmost tip of Africa to my current surroundings at the edge of a fairy forest in the mountains of Ireland. When I bought these prints I had no inkling of the direction my life would take. In many respects I've always felt the driving force behind events as they have unfolded was not mine - I've been carried along by a tide that has been outside my control. And yet, somehow at the end of it all, I've found myself in a geographical environment that is perhaps the closest it is possible to be in this world to the surroundings depicted in these scenes.
Detail of the figure above:
This painting called 'The Veil' is perhaps my favourite of them all. Here is a close-up of the figure - I love the detail on the chair and the burnt out candles.
I was so in awe of Sulamith Wulfing's art that I spent quite a lot of time studying and copying it in my teens. I've mentioned before that when I draw, colour or copy something I'm able to escape almost physically into that world, and this was a magical place to venture into.
|Unfinished study based on a Sulamith Wulfing painting|
Another variation of the maid of honour and bridesmaid. I was fairly adamant that this was what I wanted!
The next figure (also a bride) was not copied directly from a Sulamith Wulfing drawing but was certainly inspired by her. Bear in mind that I was a teenager when I did these so hopefully that excuses some of my excessive exuberance!
I don't think this last drawing is linked to anything by Sulamith Wulfing, but as I have it kept together with the one above and it has a medieval theme I decided to include it as well.
Again I've included these photos in bridal related posts before, but I'm finishing with them as they show that even though my wedding (both the ceremony and reception were held in my mom's garden in Everton, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) was a fairytale occasion I did not in the end manage the opulent medieval pageantry that I dreamt of as a child and teenager! (I was 37 when I married so long past the age of these flights of fancy.)