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John Petts

1914 – 1991

Blodeuwedd by John Petts

Blodeuwedd   1956

  Original wood engraving.
Signed, titled and dated in pencil.
Smith p.123 (Smith ascribed this work to 1959).
S 469 x 428 mm; I 428 x 384 mm
Very good signed artist’s proof impression printed on green toned simile Japan paper.

This wood engraving of the pagan Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd is one of the largest printed works by John Petts. The druidic legend of the Celtic goddess Blodeuwedd is long and complex. Essentially, Blodeuwedd was created from the flowers of the Oak tree, Broom and Meadowsweet for the sole purpose of providing a non-mortal wife for king Llew to marry and thereby attain his sovereignty over the land. Her name means either ‘flower face’ or the ancient name for ‘owl’ and she represents the earth in full bloom. While her husband was away at hunting, Blodeuwedd fell for a young huntsman, Gronw, with whom she conspired to murder her husband, king Llew. But, their attempted murder only served to transfigure Llew; Gronw was killed and Blodeuwedd turned into an owl. She is often seen as the epitome of fickleness and the faithless wife, using the passion of two men for her to seal the doom of both. In truth, her treachery created the very conditions which enabled Llew to experience the ritual death and rebirth commonly required of the Druidic priesthood, thus ensuring his kingship. A goddess of emotions and the maiden goddess of initiation ceremonies, Blodeuwedd is signified by the Empress card of the tarot. The most cited account of Blodeuwedd comes from the story of Math in the Mabinogion.

Full sheet, with margins. Mild time tone within mat window area, otherwise very good original condition.