Watercolor Study of a Butterfly
French School, Mid 19th Century
Watercolor, gouache on paper
5 x 3 1/2 x (11 1/8 x 9 1/8 frame) inches
Original period frame
A very well observed study of a butterfly showing incredible control and attention to detail.
In its metamorphosis from the common, colorless caterpillar to the exquisite winged creature of delicate beauty, the butterfly has become a metaphor for transformation and hope; across cultures, it has become a symbol for rebirth and resurrection, for the triumph of the spirit and the soul over the physical prison, the material world. Among the ancients, is an emblem of the soul and of unconscious attraction towards light. It is the soul as the opposite of the worm. In Western culture, the butterfly represents lightness and fickleness. Note Owen Warland's spiritual progression in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Artist of the Beautiful as it parallels the development of the butterfly which he struggles to mechanically recreate. In China, there are secondary meanings of joy and bliss. Is very closely related to love, especially with wings and when being burned in Cupid's hand that is not holding the bow. Wantonness, especially in Shakespeare. In Yeats, the opposite of the hawk, intuition as opposed to logic
"...metaphor representing spiritual rebirth, transformation, change, hope and life. The magnificent, yet short life of the butterfly closely mirrors the process of spiritual transformation and serves to remind us that life is short."
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