Monday, October 29, 2012



While hunting for images of arboricide, I came across a striking painting by Émile Bin (1825-1897), Le Bûcheron et l'Hamadryade Aïgeïros (1870), now in the Musée d'art Thomas-Henry in Cherbourg-Octeville:

The tree nymph Aigeiros apparently appears only once in classical literature, in Athenaeus 3.78 b (tr. Charles Burton Gulick, emphasis added):
But the Epic poet Pherenicus, a Heracleot by birth, declares that the fig was named from Syke, the daughter of Oxylus; for Oxylos, son of Oreius, married his sister Hamadryas and begot, among others, Carya (walnut), Balanus (oak-nut), Craneia (cornel), Morea (mulberry), Aegeirus (poplar), Ptelea (elm), Ampelus (vine), and Sykê (fig tree); and these are called Hamadryad ("tree") nymphs, and from them many trees derive their names.

Φερένικος δ᾽ ὁ ἐποποιός, Ἡρακλεώτης δὲ γένος, ἀπὸ Συκῆς τῆς Ὀξύλου θυγατρὸς προσαγορευθῆναι: Ὄξυλον γὰρ τὸν Ὀρείου Ἁμαδρυάδι τῇ ἀδελφῇ μιγέντα μετ᾽ ἄλλων γεννῆσαι Καρύαν, Βάλανον, Κράνειαν, Μορέαν, Αἴγειρον, Πτελέαν, Ἄμπελον, Συκῆν καὶ ταύτας Ἁμαδρυάδας νύμφας καλεῖσθαι καὶ ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν πολλὰ τῶν δένδρων προσαγορεύεσθαι.
Bin may have gotten the idea for this painting from his fellow artist Paul Milliet (1844-1918). See a letter from Alix Payen to her brother Paul Milliet (January 1, 1874), in Paul Milliet, Une Famille de Républicains Fouriéristes: Les Milliet, t. II, 2e édition (Paris: Chez l'Auteur, 1916), p. 179:
Je voudrais que tu voies les dessins que Louise a faits chez Flandrin; je t'assure que c'est très, très bien. Elle travaille beaucoup et avec ardeur, mais elle est impayable : Elle a porté des dessins à M. Bin, mais elle ne voulait pas lui montrer une composition, parce qu'elle avait peur qu'il ne lui prît son idée, comme il a fait d'ailleurs pour ton hamadryade. Tu la reconnais bien là.
On Milliet's Hamadryad, see id., t. I (1915), pp. 349-351 and pl. XXVII. I owe my knowledge of the Milliet connection to the French Wikipedia article on Émile Bin.


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