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20 September 2011  |  Furniture & Decorative Arts   |  Article

Poetic Beauty: The Silver Apples of the Moon by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

The whereabouts of The Silver Apples of the Moon is listed as unknown in publications on Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, the wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the pioneering Glasgow architect, interior decorator and painter. The Silver Apples of the Moon is known to have been exhibited in 1912 at the 33rd Annual Exhibition of The Royal Scottish Societies of Watercolours and subsequently in 1913 at the 52nd Exhibition Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, but since then there seems to be no records of it.  It is thrilling therefore to have discovered the painting and to be offering it for sale.

As with so many of the Symbolist artists, the work was inspired by poetry, in this instance taking its title from W. B. Yeats’ poem The Song of Wandering Aengus. The twilight scene depicts a girl with human features from an ethereal world as she stands before the entranced Aengus, with his uplifted head and closed eyes. The pair is enveloped by apples whilst the foreground is suggestive of the river from which the ‘little silver trout’ was caught. Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh and W. B. Yeats had a common interest in mysticism and the occult, as well as being influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites.

The Song of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flicking out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

- William Butler Yeats

Related Sale
Sale 7994
20th Century Decorative Arts
London, King Street
25 October 2011

Related Departments
20th Century Decorative Art & Design

The Silver Apples of the Moon
Estimate: £50,000 - £70,000