In the Birds of War series I "deface" historical figures from classic artworks and transform them into their avian totems. Interested in purchasing an original Birds of War painting? Contact me at eartbright@gmail.com for availability and price. Prints available in my Etsy Shop.

 "In the Guise of Minerva" 18x24 Oil on Canvas.  Catherine the Great was responsible for expanding the Russian Empire some 200,000 square miles, established the first paper money in Russia, and was a champion for arts, education, and culture. She believed that education could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people. She embraced enlightenment philosophy and was a champion of Voltaire in particular. Because of her guiding principles she was often depicted by artists in the guise of minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. whose symbol is the owl. Though Catherine was often criticized for pouring too much money into the military, and building her empire of the backs of serfs, she was able to establish much of the framework for modern Russia and effectively solidify the country's place as one of the great powers of Europe.      Painting inspired by: "Catherine II of Russia in Life Guard Uniform on the Horse Brillante" Vigilius Eriksen, 1762

"In the Guise of Minerva" 18x24 Oil on Canvas.

Catherine the Great was responsible for expanding the Russian Empire some 200,000 square miles, established the first paper money in Russia, and was a champion for arts, education, and culture. She believed that education could change the hearts and minds of the Russian people. She embraced enlightenment philosophy and was a champion of Voltaire in particular. Because of her guiding principles she was often depicted by artists in the guise of minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. whose symbol is the owl. Though Catherine was often criticized for pouring too much money into the military, and building her empire of the backs of serfs, she was able to establish much of the framework for modern Russia and effectively solidify the country's place as one of the great powers of Europe. 

 

Painting inspired by: "Catherine II of Russia in Life Guard Uniform on the Horse Brillante" Vigilius Eriksen, 1762

 "The Immortal Commander" 24x36 Oil on Canvas.  When Alexander the Great first discovered the peacock in Persia he was overwhelmed by their beauty. He thought it was a bird worthy of the Gods attention. The peacock feather soon became a symbol of his power.  It is believed by some scholars that Alexander the Great might have been the first to introduce the peacock to Europe. Later the poor peacockbecame popular not only in the courts of Europe as a symbol of royalty, but also as a delicacy. Some even thought that you could become immortal by eating the peacock, as legend told them that the peacock's flesh never rotted.   Painting inspired by: A detail of Alexander and his horse Bucephalus from The Alexander Mosaic, unknown artist, first century AD.

"The Immortal Commander" 24x36 Oil on Canvas.

When Alexander the Great first discovered the peacock in Persia he was overwhelmed by their beauty. He thought it was a bird worthy of the Gods attention. The peacock feather soon became a symbol of his power.

It is believed by some scholars that Alexander the Great might have been the first to introduce the peacock to Europe. Later the poor peacockbecame popular not only in the courts of Europe as a symbol of royalty, but also as a delicacy. Some even thought that you could become immortal by eating the peacock, as legend told them that the peacock's flesh never rotted. 

Painting inspired by: A detail of Alexander and his horse Bucephalus from The Alexander Mosaic, unknown artist, first century AD.

 "The Queen of Sacrifice" 24x30 Oil on Canvas.   In her portraits Elizabeth I of England wears all the trappings of royalty--but these decorations are more than just for show. Every stitch and jewel is symbolic. Elizabethan propoganda. Tudor roses decorate the fabric to prove her connection to the Tudors. Pearls symbolize purity. Red, black, white, and gold, prove her wealth and status. Crosses show her connection to God (she was convinced she had a direct line). And, often, a pelican appears on or around her person. The pelican symbolizes her selfless love for her people, a mother’s love, because, according to legend, a female pelican would pluck her own breast to feed her dying young with her own blood. The pelican was also a symbol, in the Middle Ages, of Jesus’ crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice, and of the Eucharist. The bird to represent the queen, then, was an easy choice.      Painting inspired by "Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes" Unknown Artist, 1600.

"The Queen of Sacrifice" 24x30 Oil on Canvas.

 In her portraits Elizabeth I of England wears all the trappings of royalty--but these decorations are more than just for show. Every stitch and jewel is symbolic. Elizabethan propoganda. Tudor roses decorate the fabric to prove her connection to the Tudors. Pearls symbolize purity. Red, black, white, and gold, prove her wealth and status. Crosses show her connection to God (she was convinced she had a direct line). And, often, a pelican appears on or around her person. The pelican symbolizes her selfless love for her people, a mother’s love, because, according to legend, a female pelican would pluck her own breast to feed her dying young with her own blood. The pelican was also a symbol, in the Middle Ages, of Jesus’ crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice, and of the Eucharist. The bird to represent the queen, then, was an easy choice. 

 

Painting inspired by "Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes" Unknown Artist, 1600.

 "Eagle's Crossing" 24x36 Oil on Canvas.   It came as a surprise to me that "Washington Crossing the Delaware" was actually a piece of propoganda created by a German artist who hoped to use the American Revolution to inspire Europeans to push for liberal reform in mid 1800's. The figures in the original painting are a veritable melting pot of ethnicities, even including a woman at the forefront, presumably to promote the idea of a culturally diverse and forward thinking America. Replacing these figures with the appropriate birds was a challenge. Washington himself, of course, could easily be represented by a bald eagle. Most of the other birds are chosen because they are the national bird of the original individual or a close equivalent. The Native American figures are represented by crows because of their respect for the crow. The Scotsman have the Golden Eyed eagle as their equivalent as it is the national bird of Scotland. The African figures are represented by the Hamerkop, the National Bird of Gambia. The two figures that seem to be farmers have been replaced with chickens. And the non-descript white soldiers are either Common Buzzards or Imperial Eagles, this choice mainly being a personal preference for the look of these birds. Finally, the lady in red in the front is a Cat Bird, well, you can guess why...   Painting Inspired by: "Washington Crossing the Delaware" Emanuel Leutze, 1851.

"Eagle's Crossing" 24x36 Oil on Canvas. 

It came as a surprise to me that "Washington Crossing the Delaware" was actually a piece of propoganda created by a German artist who hoped to use the American Revolution to inspire Europeans to push for liberal reform in mid 1800's. The figures in the original painting are a veritable melting pot of ethnicities, even including a woman at the forefront, presumably to promote the idea of a culturally diverse and forward thinking America. Replacing these figures with the appropriate birds was a challenge. Washington himself, of course, could easily be represented by a bald eagle. Most of the other birds are chosen because they are the national bird of the original individual or a close equivalent. The Native American figures are represented by crows because of their respect for the crow. The Scotsman have the Golden Eyed eagle as their equivalent as it is the national bird of Scotland. The African figures are represented by the Hamerkop, the National Bird of Gambia. The two figures that seem to be farmers have been replaced with chickens. And the non-descript white soldiers are either Common Buzzards or Imperial Eagles, this choice mainly being a personal preference for the look of these birds. Finally, the lady in red in the front is a Cat Bird, well, you can guess why... 

Painting Inspired by: "Washington Crossing the Delaware" Emanuel Leutze, 1851.

 "The Great Lady of Perfection" 24x30 Oil on Canvas.  The common kestrel was a bird revered by the Egyptians. The small falcon represented their major god Horus and was said to protect their royal sons and daughters. The bird was bred by the Egyptian people. Fed to death with little mice and then mummified and sacrificed to the gods. The falcon appears in the hieroglyphics that spell out Cleopatra's name. Protection for "the great lady of perfection."  Painting inspired by: "Cleopatra" John Williams Waterhouse 1888

"The Great Lady of Perfection" 24x30 Oil on Canvas.

The common kestrel was a bird revered by the Egyptians. The small falcon represented their major god Horus and was said to protect their royal sons and daughters. The bird was bred by the Egyptian people. Fed to death with little mice and then mummified and sacrificed to the gods. The falcon appears in the hieroglyphics that spell out Cleopatra's name. Protection for "the great lady of perfection."

Painting inspired by: "Cleopatra" John Williams Waterhouse 1888

 "The Rain King" 18x24 Oil on Canvas.   This painting was originally conceived to represent the Counting Crows song of the same name (for the show Turn it Down! At DTBN). I used a painting of the Mad King Ludwig from the 1800s as inspiration. This was mainly because he was a romantic king that loved arts and culture (and Edgar Allen Poe--loved him madly, in fact) and the song "The Rain King" is about creativity and romanticism. This project gave me the idea for the series "Birds of War" in which I "deface" historical figures and replaced their visages with a bird head that best represents them.  Painting Inspired by: "Ludwig II as the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St George." Gabriel Schachinger, 1887.

"The Rain King" 18x24 Oil on Canvas. 

This painting was originally conceived to represent the Counting Crows song of the same name (for the show Turn it Down! At DTBN). I used a painting of the Mad King Ludwig from the 1800s as inspiration. This was mainly because he was a romantic king that loved arts and culture (and Edgar Allen Poe--loved him madly, in fact) and the song "The Rain King" is about creativity and romanticism. This project gave me the idea for the series "Birds of War" in which I "deface" historical figures and replaced their visages with a bird head that best represents them.

Painting Inspired by: "Ludwig II as the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights
of St George." Gabriel Schachinger, 1887.

 "Napoleon Complex" 18x24 Oil on Canvas.   Bonaparte assumed the imperial eagle as his avian counterpart and the creature appeared on his coat of arms. His fascination with this bird was most certainly rooted in its association with the powerful Roman Empire. Later, the Nazis also used this bird as a symbol as they plotted their own world domination. Makes me feel rather sorry for the good old imperial eagle, who mostly just likes to be left alone and fed a little hamster snack once in a while.  Painting inspired by: "Napoleon Crossing the Alps" Jacques-Louis David 1801.

"Napoleon Complex" 18x24 Oil on Canvas. 

Bonaparte assumed the imperial eagle as his avian counterpart and the creature appeared on his coat of arms. His fascination with this bird was most certainly rooted in its association with the powerful Roman Empire. Later, the Nazis also used this bird as a symbol as they plotted their own world domination. Makes me feel rather sorry for the good old imperial eagle, who mostly just likes to be left alone and fed a little hamster snack once in a while.

Painting inspired by: "Napoleon Crossing the Alps" Jacques-Louis David 1801.