A VENEER OF FANTASY: THE HENRY DARGER COLLECTION OF KIYOKO AND NATHAN LERNER
"Even when full grown they are short in length. But, nevertheless, they are very monstrously just the same and can exceed the length of eight hundred feet. There are eighty feet broad, ninety feet high at the highest part, and have wings extending upward, when fully open, that exceed three hundred feet. They are beautiful to behold, in colors and face, and sometimes exceeds in beautiful appearance the most dainty little girls ever seen. When working their way along the ground, they have a habit of lifting their hands high in the air clasping together as if in the act of praying, and thus is the reason they obtain this kind of name. They are seen frequently in the Blengiglomenean and Boyking Islands, but also they are seen in the Catherine Isles. Some are beautiful in features and complexion even in the males, and no beautiful child in the world can exceed their pretty faces when the creatures are young. Hanson calls them Praying Rebbonnas. Their scales are generally all around the entire body and are all in one color on the body, excepting the face and arms which have a peculiar yellowish tan color" (Henry Darger, The Realms, Vol. 1, Ch. 4, p. 35). The Realms, Vol 1, Ch 4, p. 35.
This unexpected image, which perfectly embodies the peculiar religious impulses of the Blengins, was arrived at by tracing a picture of a child at prayer, a subject always enormously attractive to Darger. and then, incongruously but convincingly, adding to it the thick body of a serpent and an enormous set of wings. In his text he struggles to imagine how such a creature could move along the ground while its hands were raised in prayer. A dense texture of overlapping scales covering all of the lower parts of the body was laboriously applied with a pencil over an undercoat of dull red. The body color, including an attempt at flesh tones, is relatively subdued until, suddenly, the huge pair of wings fills the picture with overwhelmingly intense color, including, once again, spangled yellow dots on a vermilion red ground.
Its upward-lifting outstretched arms and rainbow-colored wings express divine adoration and figuratively relate directly to the depictions of angel Gabriel in Renaissance Art.
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