Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rackham's Rhinemaidens

Lot No: 678
WAGNER (RICHARD) The Rhinegold & Valkyrie, NUMBER 236 OF 1150 COPIES, SIGNED BY RACKHAM, 34 tipped-in colour plates, publisher's pictorial vellum gilt, soiled, 4to, William Heinemann, 1910
Estimate: £200 - 300  
Sold for £132 inclusive of Buyer's Premium 

Arthur Rackham's mythic illustrations are the reason these books retelling the stories of Wagner's four Ring operas remain so desirable. In addition to The Rhinegold & Valkyrie (1910), there is Siegfried & the Twilight of the Gods (1911). Take a good look at Rackham's exquisite Rhinemaidens below because they won't look anything like this in the opera house!  

Sale 18867 - Printed Books and Maps including Selections from Oxfam and Binding Tools, 28 Jun 2011 Oxford

The three Rhinemaidens Woglinde, Wellgunde, and Flosshilde

The Rhinemaidens tease Alberich.

Alberich tries to reach the Rhinemaidens.
Alberich steals the Rhinegold.
The Rhinemaidens try to reclaim their gold from Alberich.
Image replaced May 13, 2013

Loge the god of fire and mischief, with the Rhinemaidens who tell him of their sorrow

The Rhinemaidens lament the loss of the gold as, far above, the gods cross the rainbow bridge into Valhalla.

The Rhinemaidens warn Siegfried but fail to get him to return the ring.

But the Rhinemaidens become deadly serious. It is Siegfried's fate to keep the ring and fall victim to its curse. They bid the hero farewell and swim off to see Brünnhilde, to whom they will explain everything. By the end of the day she will have inherited the ring.

The Rhinemaidens obtain possession of the ring and bear it off in triumph.


Is this 1910 illustration, obtained from a different online source, truly a Rhinemaiden lamenting? I'm not sure. The Rhinemaidens in the operas always remain as a trio.

If you've gotten this far, I hope you have a renewed appreciation for the art of Arthur Rackham. Perhaps you yourself are a lifelong fan, as I have been. If not, see me after class!

The book auction listing is located here:  http://bonhams.com/eur/auction/18867/lot/678/

My online image source is here:  http://www.artpassions.net/rackham/wagner_ring.html



  1. I have a Litho of the 9th picture signed and am looking to sell

  2. I have a Litho of the 9th picture signed and am looking to sell