Sen nocy letniej Monod, Lucien Hector (1867 - 1957)

Sen nocy letniej

Lucien Hector Monod (1867-1957)
was a French painter and lithographer. His creativity came from the symbolist movement. He painted in the style of Art Nouveau and 18th century French rococo. He studied at the Académie Julian in Paris*. His works are characterized by capturing a unique color palette, especially the shaded parts, long hours of observing nature and an impressive decorative presentation. Monod saw and captured the uniqueness and poetics of the everyday life surrounding him that was no longer noticed. He was a popular artist, often subordinating the theme of his works to the tastes of the general public*** for financial purposes.

Description of the painting:
Lucien Monod’s work “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” illustrates one of the scenes from William Shakespeare’s 16th century masterpiece, “The Awakening of Titania”. The enchanted Queen of the Elves falls in love with the first figure she sees upon awakening – a member of the acting troupe transformed into an ass. Accompanying her are her faithful subjects, winged figures: Gnat, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed. The painter used the well-known literary motif to show the futility of human struggles against fate and destiny.

Can the rules be broken and the biggest heartbreak and loss of a beloved one be presented in a comedy form? Absolutely. But only if it is written by Shakespeare himself. The action of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” takes place on Midsummer’s night in an Athenian forest. It briefly discusses the romantic turmoil of three couples. One of them is in love with each other Hermia and Lysander, for whose wedding the father of the girl does not agree since he cannot break the promise already given to Demetrius. Demetrius, in turn, is loved without reciprocity by Helena. The last pair is the king and the unruly queen of the elves – Oberon and Titania. The cause of the turmoil is a seemingly unassuming forest spirit – Puck.

Hermia and Lysander decide to run away to secretly get married. The jealous Demetrius follows them into the forest. Helena runs after him. At the same time, guests are arriving for the four-day wedding of Theseus – the prince of Athens and Hippolyta. Among them is the royal couple of fairy rulers. The local theatre troupe prepares a wedding performance for the occasion. Rehearsals take place in a clearing in the forest. The jealous king of the fairies – Oberon – urges Titania to give him a young boy she has taken under her wing. She refuses. However, Oberon devises a trick and sends Puck for magical juice from a flower struck by Cupid’s arrow. The person whose eyes are sprinkled with it will fall madly in love with the first creature they see. The king wants to outwit Titania in this way and force her to give him the young boy. Oberon also orders Demetrius’ eyes to be sprinkled so that he will reciprocate Helena’s intense feelings. Of course, the intricate plan is disrupted by a series of unfortunate events.

In his work, Lucien Hector Monod decided to portray only a fragment of the play, “The Awakening of the Titans”. One of the members of the theatrical troupe preparing a wedding performance falls asleep under a bush. Puck places an ass’s head on him and transforms him into an animal. Nearby, on a meadow, Tytania, the queen of elves, is also lying asleep. Oberon has sprinkled her eyes with magical flower juice. Fate has it that the first creature Tytania sees upon awakening is Bottom – an amateur actor, a weaver by profession, with an ass’s head. Tytania, under the influence of magic, falls madly in love with him. And the four elves serving her, captured in a painting, fulfill all the wishes of her new beloved.

Monod’s painting, like the action of the play, becomes an example of art on the border between wakefulness and sleep, between the fantastic and the real world, in which human life seems to be subject to blind fate and only a plaything in the hands of mythological creatures. Both works break the rule of predictability and sense of human struggle with destiny.

For ballet fans, the fragment of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare with “The Awakening of the Titans”: Francesco Vantaggio in the role of Bottom/Ass, Eleonora Abbagnato as Tytania and Emmanuel Thibault as the forest spirit Puck: