Symbolism in Art

Everett Webber, of West Lebanon, N.H. and one of Watercolor Artist’s 2015 Ones to Watch, is inspired by using symbolism in art. Here he shares the details of his piece, The Judgement of Paris:

“Multiple figures, with the extensive use of multicolored grids in a variety of orientations outlined (for the most part) by the white of the paper, are featured in The Judgement of Paris. Here my symbolism in art depicts the Trojan War.

“The crescent moon with the star is an ancient symbol found across the ancient world; the orchid triangle is Mount Olympus; Paris’ red cap is a Phrygian cap, showing that he’s from Phrygia, and his Shepherd’s crook shows his occupation. The yellow design in the left lower corner is an illusory symbol showing that all may not be what it seems to be. Paris’ golden apple represents the ‘most beautiful woman in the world,’ and Aphrodite, goddess of love, is signifying that she’s ‘Number One’ in what’s probably the first beauty contest in history. She’s symbolized by the presence of Eros with his bow and arrows. Meanwhile, Athena, goddess of wisdom, justice, strength and war strategy—symbolized by her helmet and spear—turns her back in disdain. Hera, in her crown as queen of gods and goddesses, is taken aback and is disgruntled.

“This event leads directly to the Trojan War, the Greek Invasion of Troy and defeat of the Trojans after nearly 10 years, which is symbolized in the panels on the right side of the painting. Poseidon, god of earthquakes and storms, is symbolized by the all-powerful, all-seeing eye, bringing on the storm. Aeolus, god of winds, blows favorable winds to bring the Greek fleet to Troy. A symbol of the peaceful, walled city of Troy is next. The clash of Greeks and Trojans is depicted by helmets and spears. Finally, the trickery of the Greeks is shown by the Trojan Horse, which leads directly to Greek victory.”  –Everett Webber


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