Fire in Art and Storytelling

Effulgent: (literary) shining brightly; radiant

Lambent: (literary) (of light or fire) glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance.

Lucent: (literary) glowing with or giving off light.

Refulgent: (literary) shining very brightly

CAMPFIRE

My life has been told to me through camprfire tales — stories that spill over when the fire has burned low and silence must be filled. They’re like old coats hauled from the back of the cupboard. Dusted off, aired out, good as new. My mother, Vivienne, doled them out as reward or consolation, depending on her mood. And so I came to know myself — through the telling and retelling.

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield, Australian author

Tall tales are a storytelling tradition that extends far back into human history. In our imaginations, tall tales happen around the camp fire.

LE DIEU VIVANT (1974) DH Comes campfire
LE DIEU VIVANT (1974) DH Comes campfire
Evgenii Rachev (1906 - 1997) 1960 illustration for Russian Folk Tales campfire
Evgenii Rachev (1906 – 1997) 1960 illustration for Russian Folk Tales.
Khasui Kawase (1883 - 1957)
Khasui Kawase (1883 – 1957)
Paul Zelinsky - Swamp Angel Anne Isaacs fire
Paul Zelinsky – Swamp Angel Anne Isaacs
postcard from Finland, illustrated by Rolf Lidberg in the 1970s
postcard from Finland, illustrated by Rolf Lidberg in the 1970s
Jenny Eugenia Nystrom (1854-1946) ~ Swedish painter and illustrator who created numerous Christmas cards and magazine covers
Jenny Eugenia Nystrom (1854-1946) ~ Swedish painter and illustrator who created numerous Christmas cards and magazine covers
Smoking Animals, Theodor de Bry, after Johann Theodor de Bry, 1591 fire
Smoking Animals, Theodor de Bry, after Johann Theodor de Bry, 1591 fire
Top-Notch v016 n05 [1914-05-20] campfire
Top-Notch v016 n05 [1914-05-20]
PRIJDTE K NAM, MUZIKANTI (1960) Jiri Trnka camp fire
PRIJDTE K NAM, MUZIKANTI (1960) Jiri Trnka camp fire
Olivier Tallec campfire
Olivier Tallec campfire
from How To Make Friends With A Ghost by Rebecca Green
from How To Make Friends With A Ghost by Rebecca Green
Western Story Magazine campfire
Paul Zelinsky - Swamp Angel Anne Isaacs fire
Paul Zelinsky – Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs. I think there might be more to this one than ‘camp fire’.

HEARTH

For more on the significance and symbolism of the home hearth, see this post.

Another one from Louis Wain, Cats by the Fire
Another one from Louis Wain, Cats by the Fire. I’m pretty sure the black cat started a conflagration.
Krystyna Turska, 1972
Krystyna Turska, 1972

BURN OFFS

A PRAIRIE BOY'S SUMMER (1975) William Kurelek fire
A PRAIRIE BOY’S SUMMER (1975) William Kurelek
by Edna Eicke (1919-1979)
Edna Eicke (1919-1979)

CONFLAGRATION

Fire in the Admiralty line jobs, 1673, Romeyn de Hooghe (attributed to), after Jan van der Heyden, 1690 - 1735
Fire in the Admiralty line jobs, 1673, Romeyn de Hooghe (attributed to), after Jan van der Heyden, 1690 – 1735
Cover by Achille Beltrame 1906 fire
Cover by Achille Beltrame 1906
The Great Sea Horse 1909 by Isabel Anderson fire
The Great Sea Horse 1909 by Isabel Anderson
N. Zeitlin - Tales of the Brothers Grimm Three Lucky Ones fire
N. Zeitlin – Tales of the Brothers Grimm Three Lucky Ones
'Stampede'  This unusual Western painting was salvaged from the Coney Island House of Horrors, c. 1935 artist unknown, fire
‘Stampede’ This Western painting was salvaged from the Coney Island House of Horrors, c. 1935 artist unknown, fire

John Atkinson Grimshaw, In Peril, 1879 fire
John Atkinson Grimshaw, In Peril, 1879
Illustration by Ed Emberley in 'Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home' written by Judy Hawes. First published 1967, this reprint in Butler and Tanner, 1970 2
Illustration by Ed Emberley in ‘Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home’ written by Judy Hawes. First published 1967, this reprint in Butler and Tanner, 1970

Huckle's Mum sets the house on fire while ironing Daddy's shirt, Richard Scarry
Huckle’s Mum sets the house on fire while ironing Daddy’s shirt, Richard Scarry
Anastasia Arkhipova - The Steadfast Tin Soldier fire
Anastasia Arkhipova – The Steadfast Tin Soldier
By Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) 'The Lovers Perish in the Fire' f. Arabian Nights, 1917
By Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) ‘The Lovers Perish in the Fire’ f. Arabian Nights, 1917
Gary Larsson
Gary Larsson

BONFIRE

A bonfire is a big campfire, right? Except it’s not just for warmth but for fun and celebration and to raise the emotional charge of a celebration.

Bonfire Night by John Kenney 1967
Bonfire Night by John Kenney 1967
‘Bonfire Night’ (1951) John Bull magazine by Ronald Lampitt
‘Bonfire Night’ (1951) John Bull magazine by Ronald Lampitt
Tom Adams (1926 - 2019) 1973 book cover illustration for 'Destination Unknown' by Agatha Christie
Tom Adams (1926 – 2019) 1973 book cover illustration for ‘Destination Unknown’ by Agatha Christie

CORPSE BURNING

Corpse burning at a tribe in a distant land, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1623 - 1628
Corpse burning at a tribe in a distant land, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1623 – 1628
A woman jumps on the stake of her dead husband, 1597, anonymous, after Johannes of Lucas van Doetechum, 1646
A woman jumps on the stake of her dead husband, 1597, anonymous, after Johannes of Lucas van Doetechum, 1646.

HELL FIRE

Devil stokes the fire in France and Holland, 1830, William Heath, 1830
Devil stokes the fire in France and Holland, 1830, William Heath, 1830
1909 Frank Pape, for Anatole France's Penguin Island fire
1909 Frank Pape, for Anatole France’s Penguin Island
Weird Tales v05 n02 (1925-02)
Weird Tales v05 n02 (1925-02)

FIRE AS LIGHTING

Lennart Helje (1940) cat gnome mouse
Lennart Helje (1940)
Charles Santore, William the Curious: Knight of the Water Lilies
Charles Santore, William the Curious: Knight of the Water Lilies

WHAT EVEN IS THIS

Edward Gorey fire tea
Edward Gorey, probably a big bowl of wassail lit on fire. It might be a game of Snap-dragon.
Nineteenth Century German Tales illustrated by Edward Gorey 1959 fire
Nineteenth Century German Tales illustrated by Edward Gorey 1959
European Expressionist painter Marianne von Werefkin, Police Post, Wilna, 1914
European Expressionist painter Marianne von Werefkin, Police Post, Wilna, 1914
De Coulanges, 1928-Christmas Fontanet (1898-1982) fire
De Coulanges, 1928-Christmas Fontanet (1898-1982)

Fire can be a powerful and sometimes all consuming force. Helpful and dangerous in equal measure, the ability to use fire sets man apart from the animals. It should not be too surprising then that fire features heavily in our folklore and traditions.

The Folklore Podcast
Janet and Anne Grahame-Johnstone - Aladdin fire
Janet and Anne Grahame-Johnstone – Aladdin fire