The Castle of the Grail

Amfortas, the Fisher King, King of the Grail, as the legend has it, having been wounded several centuries before for taking up arms in the cause of unlawful love, lies under a spell, with all the inmates of the Castle of the Grail, into which the artist here introduces us. They are spiritually dead, and although the Grail often appears in their very midst, they cannot see it. From this strange perpetuation of ineffectual life they can none of them, women or men. priests, or soldiers, or courtiers, be liberated by death until the most blameless knight shall at last arrive. It will not be sufficient, however, that he simply penetrate into the castle: to the operation of the remedy is attached that condition which recurs so often in primitive romance, the asking of a question on which everything depends. Sir Galahad has reached his goal, but at the very goal his single slight taint of imperfection, begotten of the too worldly teaching of Gurnemanz, defeats his beneficent action. Before him passes the procession of the Grail, moving between the great fires and the trance-smitten king, and gazing at it he tries to arrive, in his mind, at an interpretation of what it means. He sees the bearer of the Grail, the damsel with the Golden Dish (the prototype of whom was Herodias bearing the head of John the Baptist on a charger), the two knights with the Seven-branched Candle-stick, and the knight holding aloft the Bleeding Spear. The duty resting upon him is to ask what these things denote, but, with the presumption of one who supposes himself to have imbibed all knowledge, he forbears, considering that he is competent to guess. But he pays for his silence, inasmuch as it forfeits for him the glory of redeeming from this paralysis of centuries the old monarch and his hollow-eyed Court, forever dying and never dead, whom he leaves folded in their dreadful doom. On his second visit, many years later, he is better inspired.

I’m not too happy with this one.  I’ve zoomed in on some detail with the next two:


Follows is the original photo:



The year after Connecticut Yankee came out, Edwin Austin Abbey, another American expatriate painter, was commissioned to create a 15 panel mural for the Book Delivery Room at the new Boston Public Library. The subject he chose was "The Quest for the Holy Grail."