Ludwig II: The Guardian of the Swans

Ludwig II of Bavaria, and his life and loves, will always be a realm I will revisit. This last year has, and continues to be, full of uncertainty and I think I found comfort and escape in this familiar theme. In my initial Lohengrin piece, which was the first Art nouveau style illustration I completed many years ago now,  I explored the story of the Swan Knight. Ludwig was completely obsessed by this story and the links to his homeland.

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In this illustration Ludwig is Lohengrin. With his grail castle, the real-life Neuschwanstein, behind him. He wears the armour of a Knight, emblazoned with swan motifs and magical symbols, with his ceremonial robe belted around his waist. Before him stand two swans; one is bowering his head in submission, whilst the other is proud and crowned. On Ludwig's knee, in the guise of a bible, lays a copy of the story of Lohengrin. Instead of a sword, Ludwig holds a lily (his favourite flower and link to Louis XVI who was another of his idols). Behind him stands his cousin Elisabeth (Queen of Austria and Hungary); another tortured soul and a great love of Ludwigs. Above the Swan Knight and his throne you can see the phases of the moon which symbolise his love of the night time over day coining him the title of the 'Moon King'. 

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