Paintings + Literature: A Marriage of the Arts

‘Art’ does not exclusively refer to objects in museums. The arts include everything from painting to sculpture, theater, fashion design and literature. Any creative process results in art and real magic happens when the arts are combined. Such is the case with these paintings based on great works of literature. Not merely illustrations inside the books, rather these are full-scale paintings done simply because an author inspired an artist, though the two may well have never met or even lived in the same century. Whether you call that time travel or magic or just the creative spark, these works of art and literature make for a wonderful series of marriages.

Paintings + Literature: A Marriage of the Arts

Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, Thomas Sully

“She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length from head to foot.

The poor girl bore it all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have scolded her; for his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused her to be called Cinderwench. Only the younger sister, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella, notwithstanding her coarse apparel, was a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters, although they were always dressed very richly.”

Cinderella; or The Little Glass Slipper, Charles Perrault

Paintings + Literature: A Marriage of the Arts

Romeo and Juliet, Benjamin West

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!”

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

Paintings + Literature: A Marriage of the Arts

Shades of Francesca da Ramini and Paolo Malatesta Appear to Dante and Virgil, Ary Scheffer

“. . . One day, for pleasure,
We read of Lancelot, by love constrained:
Alone, suspecting nothing, at our leisure.
. . .
And so was he who wrote it; that day we read
. . .
No further. . . .”

Inferno, Dante Aligheir

Paintings + Literature: A Marriage of the Arts

Uncle Tom and Little Eva, Robert Duncanson

“A slave warehouse! Perhaps some of my readers conjure up horrible visions of such a place. They fancy some foul, obscure den… But no, innocent friend; in these days men have learned the art of sinning expertly and genteelly, so as not to shock the eyes and senses of respectable society. Human property is high in the market; and is, therefore, well fed, well cleaned, tended, and looked after, that it may come to sale sleek, and strong, and shining. A slave warehouse in New Orleans is a house externally not unlike many others, kept with neatness; and where every day you may see arranged, under a sort of shed along the outside, rows of men and women, who stand there as a sign of the property sold within.”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

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