about : nymphaéa
« Nymphaéa » In Ancient Greece naiads or water-nymphs were associated with the white water lily Nymphaeaceae, symbolising modesty. Naiad derives from the Greek 'to flow' or 'flowing one'. Water-nymphs were bound to the freshwater streams, springs, wells, rivers, fountains and lakes where they were born. They were extremely long-lived minor goddesses (Plutarch suggested 9,720 years) but unlike gods, they were not immortal. Their waters were thought to have medicinal, divination and prophetic powers; if their waters were pure and clear they remained young and beautiful, if weak or impure, their strength, beauty and vitality faded and unless they married mortals, they died. When mortals were respectful and sincere naiads were friendly and benevolent, however, if they were betrayed they could be extremely vengeful. In remote villages in Greece, some villagers still believe today that naiads or nymphs inhabit wells, springs and streams. There are many references to naiads and nymphs in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey and Ovid's Metamorphoses.
In Greek mythology, the naiad Castalia was transformed into a fountain by the God Apollo and anyone who drank her waters or heard its sound would be inspired to become a poet. Castalia features in Herman Hesse's novel The Glass Bead Game. Written in the 1930s, Hesse took the name of this naiad as inspiration for an elite, austere group of scholars and philosophers, the Castillian Order, who are active in a far-off, distant utopia. Although The Glass Bead Game is not described in detail, leaving much to the imagination, the novel left a lasting impression on me as a student at art college.
In painting, when you think of water lilies, one artist in particular stands out, Claude Monet and his beautiful paintings of water lilies in the lily-pond at Giverney: les Nénuphars de L'eau. Whilst Monet's paintings do not reference the mythical qualities of the flower, another artist was inspired by the myths, Nicholas Poussin. He explored the physical and psychological tensions in the myth of Apollo and Daphne: 'a meditation on the impossibility of love, the tricks destiny plays, and the brevity of human life as opposed to the permanence of nature'. Louis-Antoine Prat.
« Naiades » were photographed in the gardens of the Château de Pommard, one of the oldest and most beautiful wine estates in Burgundy. Pommard's Pinot Noir vines were first planted by Benedictine monks in 909 AD when the village was called Polmarium. Recent studies have concluded that the original wine-makers of France were the descendants of Greek explorers who settled in southern France about 600 BC.