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white ladies

White Ladies are the stuff of legend and mythology in several European countries, including the Netherlands, where the artist was born.

from natural phenomena...

Diaphonous and diffuse figures floating in woods or near lakes, often at dusk; these apparitions are White Ladies. The explanation given is that layers of mist form near the ground and then glide amongst the trees, moving and wandering on the air until daybreak comes and they evaporate.

…to nordic legends

“Witte Vrouwen” (or “Witte Wieven” in popular language) first appear in the Germanic peoples in ancient history. They were real people, much respected for their gifts of clairvoyance, and the priestesses of the tribe were chosen from among their number. The adjective white (“witte”) did not refer to their colour but rather to their wisdom, the verb “wissen” or “weten” signifying knowledge. After her death, a white lady’s memory was honoured on her burial mound. It was said that the white figures that seemed to roam around these places were their kindly ghosts come to watch over the people.

Over several centuries white ladies became the ambiguous heroines of all sorts of legends that vary from region to region.

In the middle ages, with the advent of Christianity the interpretation of the apparitions of white ladies changed: they were seen as the spawn of sorcery and their machiavellian powers were feared or revered. The Church denounced these pagan beliefs for several centuries and persecuted their followers.

Yet the White Lady has survived and continues to haunt or enchant our nights and our dreams...

the artist's approach

In her series Manuela Luchtmeijer evokes a night in the northern mists. The first apparition floats in violet twilight lit by the moon; as darkness gathers the forms become more definite, the waverings take on a bluer hue. Eventually dawn and daybreak bring the return of colour. As she evaporates the white lady gives her final message of hope: I shall uphold. *

Each painting harbours a triple reference: it evokes a particular legend, a moment of this misty night, but is also and above all a metaphor for an event or phase in the artist’s life.


* "I shall uphold" ("Je Maintiendrai") is also the motto -in French- of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.