The Lion in Winter – Poetry and Power

No man who sees her and has faith

In her sweet looks, her lovely eyes;

Could ever believe, in any way

Her heart is evil: her mind, it lies:

But waters that slide calmly by

Drown more than those that roar and sigh.

They deceive who seem so fair,

Oh, be wary of the debonair.

“La rossinhols s’esbaudeya” by Bernard de Ventadour, translated from the Occitan by A.S. Kline

An illustration based on one of my favorite scenes from the 1966 play (more famous for the 1968 movie) The Lion in Winter by James Goldman.

ELEANOR: I wanted poetry and power and the young men who made them both. I even wanted Henry in those days. Now I have only one desire left–to see you king.

RICHARD: You only want to see Father’s vitals on a bed of lettuce.

The Lion in Winter (1966), James Goldman

I love the way the relationship between Eleanor and Richard is so tense and off-putting in the story, and how art and poetry plays a large part of it. In this scene, Eleanor tries to appeal to her estranged son’s sense of nostalgia by referencing the times they spent together as she taught him poetry and music and an appreciation of the arts, in a time when “the sun was warmer then, and we were every day together.” While the scene works on its own as a very stylized, and fictional representation, it was interesting to me also learning a little bit more of the historical context behind the figures as well.

After all, poetry and music was a major part of the Occitan troubadour culture and tradition that started around the 11th century in Southern France, and thus would have been a key component of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s familial and cultural heritage as well as a source of wealth and legitimacy. This cultural legacy is one thing the play hints at in the background a lot, but isn’t particularly dwelled on, as the characters in the play talk about regions more as sources of power and bargaining chips amongst each other. However in this scene, I think it gives a lot of interesting background. When Eleanor appeals to Richard by bringing up poetry and art, it isn’t just to be warm and sentimental, but also a reminder of shared language and origins.

I was very inspired by Pre-Raphaelite works for this; I like how the style incorporates both the pseudo-medieval look with more modern design sensibilities. To me it reflects how the play script mixes both poetic, elegant language and more modern wisecracking. I liked incorporating symbols and meanings into the borders, although it was a challenge to balance between having the design look appealing to me as well as not standing out too much in a way that was distracting to the central image.

While this was done digitally (In Clip Studio Paint for the iPad), I also wanted to give it a bit more of a drawn texture in the kinds of marks I made for this as well, snd I was sort of inspired by pastel strokes in leaving marks more visible. Of course, there’s only so much I can do, but i overall like how it came out.

Published by maiden theory

I'm just a Bird whose intentions are good

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