The Witch of Atlas
Decorative Antique Plaque of Percy Shelley Poem
Heraldic Shield with Knight's Helmet and Suns by Louis Otto
The Witch of Atlas -- Shelley
English or American: c. 1900
Metal relief plaque in ebonized oak frame
10.75 x 10.75 inches, overall

A decorative brass-plated relief plaque illustrating The Witch of Atlas, a narrative poem set in antiquity with characters from Greek mythology.  The brass highlights are enhanced with a reddish-brown patination in the reserves.  In the lower right corner is a small inset portrait of the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. The central illustration shows the Witch of Atlas on the right paddling a boat and facing her creation, Hermaphrodite, a male winged figure. The illustrations are in a linear Art Nouveau style popularized by the British artist Aubrey Beardsley at the end of the 19th century.  Striking decorative elements include the bow of the boat in the form of a swan's head and a rainbow spanning the background.  The pictures are surrounded by a floral border bearing the title of the poem and the name "Shelley," the whole contained within a square with three rounded corners.

The Witch of Atlas is one of Shelley's major works. Given the illustrational style, this plaque probably was made around the turn of the 20h century. Indeed, during that period, in 1902, the British composer Sir Granville Bantock premiered his orchestral composition based on the poem, The Witch of Atlas: Tone Poem for Orchestra No.5 after Shelley, suggesting that the plaque might have been issued in connection with a revived popularity of this work at the time.

Condition:  Plaque very good with the usual overall oxidation and wear.  Frame very good with the usual wear and light shrinkage.


"The Witch of Atlas." Wikipedia. 25 March 2012. (28 January 2013).

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