I did this article a while back when I created my design of the Green Fairy (or Absinthe). It is perhaps a bit long for here, but I hope you enjoy it.
I have been enjoying the intriguing history of this little fairy and she has inspired me to create my own version of her. She was the muse said to represent the potent liquor known as Absinthe. A naughty and mischievous lady, but very seductive. She is also referred to as La Fee Verte or Green Fairy. She was part of La Belle Époque, or “beautiful era”. A period in France’s history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. It was a golden time of beauty, innovation, and peace between France and its European neighbors. A time of cabaret, and cancan, and art flourished with Impressionism and Art Nouveau. She inspired famous artists and writers of that time, and was a favorite of the bohemian culture.
Some of the more famous imbibers she inspired were… Verlaine, Rimbaud, Poe, Wilde, Mary Shelly, Hemingway, Somerset Maugham and Jack London.
Absinthe often has a dazzling green color (depending on the brand). The color usually came from the chlorophyll content of the herbs used in the distillation process. The main ingredient being Wormwood.
But it not only inspired, it also drove some mad. It is said to be a contributing factor when Van Gogh cut off part of his ear. Below a quote from Wilde.
“After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”
Absinthe also enjoyed great popularity in New Orleans at that time but was banned in the U.S. around 1912. One place of great renown was “The Old Absinthe House” in the heart of the French Quarter, at the corner of Bourbon Street and Bienville. Many celebrities passed through their doors as well … including P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Jenny Lind, Enrico Caruso, General Robert E Lee, Franklin Roosevelt, Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra.
This is just a taste of the rich history that follows the Green Fairy. There is so much more and only a search away if you would like to delve deeper.
I hope you enjoy my illustration of this fascinating Green Fairy and her intoxicating past. I offer my rendition of her here on T-shirts, wall art and cards.