Columbine and Harlekin

Pamela Phelps

Phillipsport, United States

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“Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
~William Blake

The Story of Columbine and Harlekin ia a Danish Pantomime tradition dating back to the 1800s. The Tivoli Pantomime has played every summer since 1843. The performance takes place at the Peacock theatre, built in 1874. Before then, there was an older theatre that was built when Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843. The current theatre is the only of its kind worldwide. The theatre’s special curtain is shaped like a peacock’s tail which unfolds when the play starts.

The stage is obviously set somewhere in old Copenhagen, at the home of stodgy Cassander who lives alone with his beautiful daughter, Columbine. Cassander is assisted by his servant, Pierrot, who has a white face like the clown he really is. And Cassander’s adversary with whom he is constantly struggling is Harlequin – a charming, masked scoundrel with little money to his name but who is deeply in love with Columbine and often well-connected to a friendly sorcerer or fairy.

Cassander is a strict father and Pierrot is his servant. Columbine is the heroine, a beautiful ballerina who dances on her toes. She represents the innocent, the unattainable, and the kind of person you can not avoid falling in love with. Harlequin is the mysterious lover and adventurer with a mask and well-connected with supernatural powers. The many colored squares on his costume is stylized patches designed to show that he is poor, while the shimmering sequins symbolizes the coins he has begged for and then sewn onto the garment, like seamen and journeymen once did, so that the money would not be stolen.

Dreamscape created after reading of traditions and lore about Denmark. The quietude of this playing dream was quite magical, as was the flowing emotional release which was soothing to the spirit.

Composed in Photoshop. Columbine and Harlekin was a copyright free, personally owned postcard, background was removed, and figures were re-touched and painted in Twisted Brush. Image of couple was then moved back to Photoshop, layered in with backgrounds and textures, treated with lighting effects, filters, and blending modes.

Background and textures courtesy of Lenabem-Anna

Artwork Comments

  • JRGarland
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