Hand-printed copperplate line etching with aquatint shading. 9" x 12" inked plate on 11” x 14” Zerkall copperplate paper with deckle edging. Signed and numbered edition of 30.
Based on the various renditions of the medieval European murder ballad ("Two Sisters" - "Twa Sisters" - "Cruel Sister" - "Dreadful Wind & Rain" - etc), in which a girl is drowned by her elder sister, jealous of her love for the young prince over whom they quarreled. The younger sister's body floats downstream and washes up on the bank, where a wandering minstrel happens across it and crafts an enchanted violin (or harp, in some versions) out of her bones and hair. He presents it as a gift to the elder sister and the prince at their wedding, where it magically begins to play of its own accord the mournful song of the young girl's death, incriminating the murderous sister. In some versions the instrument then transforms into a swan and flies away, while the horrified bride hurls herself into the river.
Numerous elements of these various renditions of the song are included in this image to make a rather anachronistic montage of the whole story. The minstrel's mask adds to the notion of him as a kind of phantom or necromancer (after all, he crafts an instrument from the bones of a fresh corpse). Over the girl's body you can also see a weeping swan, a nod to the transformation of the bone fiddle after it has set right this injustice. Also in the background can be seen the jealous older sister, weeping with her head in her hands by the riverbank, beset by grief and regret for what she has done, while another mysterious bard torments her with song.
All of these scenes, plus the menagerie of imps, grotesques, and demons add up to what is intended to be instantly reminiscent of the art of Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch, and Gustave Doré.
11” x 14”