The Mysterious Dreamworld of Leonor Fini

I am cannibalizing an old website of mine; The Mysterious Domain. It was a blog of my inspirations. Now I put all of those on here at Gothic Faery Tales. Leonore Fini was a magical artist that has inspired me for ages. Please enjoy her work!

The Mysterious Dreamworld of Leonor Fini

I first came across this picture in a book about woman’s mysteries published in the mid 1970’s. The minute I saw it, I wanted a Moon Goddess costume too. I have since had few.

When I saw this image the flanking skeleton women were not there. Whoever placed them in the frame has identified Fini’s Moon Goddess as Hekate, of the dark side of the moon. Or perhaps it is a pun on her name, Fini, meaning The End.

Leonor Fini paints dreams. Her elegant canvases are filled with sleepwalkers, ghosts, mostly women and girls with deep secrets. Their eyes filled with wonder, they gaze out at you as if daring you to enter their Mysterious Domain. The atmosphere is feminine, fashionable, laden with  erotic undercurrents, magical glamor, presented in soft, alluring colors that cloak her disturbing visions of the unconscious with innocence.

Cat Woman

It has been said about her that Leonor Fini is the only artist to paint women without apology. Many of her paintings feature strong, beautiful women (many times resembling herself) in ceremonial or provocative situations. Men are often portrayed as lithe figures who are under the protection of her females. The sphinx and cats play major parts in her paintings, as does the theme of ‘the double’. She was equally adept at etching, drawing, watercolor and oil painting. She lived with many cats; up to a total of 23 at one time. The illness of one of her cats could send her into a deep depression.

A Portrait with her cat.


Womens Alchemy

Fini often plays with the triune nature of womens’ mysteries. Women are the holders of hidden knowledge. Close to nature, the realm of the subconscious is familiar. It has no need for explanation; signs are potent and say it all.

Women are vessels, are the openers of locked doors. Sensing already that what is inside is potent, creative, magnetic, she is entitled to the key. It is part of a what a woman is to be deeply effected by what is hidden away and that, being seen, retains its mystery.

The silence of the visual art is the perfect expression for these mysteries.

Biography: What is Allowed to be Told

I stole from Wikipedia again…..bad! Very bad! But you get  references to all these famous artists and places of interest and stuff. I will have more of my own to say further on.

Leonor Fini (August 30, 1908, Buenos Aires, Argentina – January 18, 1996, Paris, France)

She was born in Buenos Aires to an Italian mother and an Argentine father. Her mother left her father before Leonor’s first birthday and returned to Triest, Italy with her child. In an effort to foil kidnap attempts by her father, Fini was disguised as a boy whenever she left her house until the age of five.

lready a dramatic life. The stuff of Opera! And then off to Paris in the 1930’s. How exciting!

After leaving Trieste for Milan at the age of 17, she relocated to Paris in either 1931 or 1932. There, she became acquainted with, among many others, Paul Eluard,   Max Ernst. Georges Battail, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Picasso, Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, and Salvador Dalí. She traveled Europe by car with Mandiargues and Cartier-Bresson where she was photographed nude in a swimming pool by Cartier-Bresson. The photograph of Fini sold in 2007 for $305,000 – the highest price paid at auction for one of his works to that date.

She painted portraits of Jean Genet, Anna Magnani, Jacques Audiberti, Alida Valli, Jean Schlumberger (jewelry designer) and Suzanne Flon as well as many other celebrities and wealthy visitors to Paris. While working for Elsa Schiaparelli she designed the flacon for the perfume, “Shocking”, which became the top selling perfume for the House of Schiaparelli. She designed costumes and decorations for theater, ballet and opera, including the first ballet performed by Roland Petit’s Ballet de Paris, “Les Demoiselles de la nuit”, featuring a young Margot Fonteyn. This was a payment of gratitude for Fini’s having been instrumental in finding the funding for the new ballet company. She also designed the costumes for two films, Renato Castellani’s Romeo and Juliet (1954) and John Huston’s A Walk with Love and Death (1968), which starred 18 year old Anjelica Huston and Moshe Dayan’s son, Assaf.

She once said, “A woman should live with two men; one more a lover and the other more a friend.” She then proceeded to do so. Stanislao Lepri, an Italian diplomat when she met him, left the diplomatic corp to live with her and painted. Approximately five years later Konstanty Jele?ski, a Polish writer and journalist (i.a. from Kultura) joined them.

In the 1970s, she wrote three novels, Rogomelec, Moumour, Contes pour enfants velu and Oneiropompe. Her friends included Jean Cocteau, Giorgio de Chirico, and Alberto Moravia, Fabrizio Clerci and most of the other artists and writers inhabiting or visiting Paris. She illustrated many works by the great authors and poets, including Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire and Shakespeare, as well as texts by new writers. She was very generous with her illustrations and donated many drawings to writers to help them get published. She is, perhaps, best known for her graphic illustrations for Histoire d’O.

A biographical song about Leonor Fini’s life is featured on Welsh artist Katell Keineg’s    1997 second album, Jet.

Fallen Angels

Is the Angel in awe of the woman? Does it envy her mortal beauty? Or is the angel that fell for mortal woman and seeded the Divine Spark in the human race?

Strange Magics

There is something of the grave about these images. Fate playing at Cat’s Cradle. Pulling the strings. And then, the empty winding sheet. By their looks on their faces, perhaps someone has risen from the dead.

What is the Mystery? Red Vision




The Veil is Parted .

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Le Chateau du Raray: La Belle et la Bete

Le Chateau du Raray: La Belle et la Bete

I have always loved Cocteau’s  version of Beauty and the Beast.I also love Simon Marsden’s photos. it was looking through his wonderful book Haunted France and found photos of the fabulous gate and the chateau where Cocteau shot his eerie and beautiful film. Chateau du Raray is a real place with that wonderful parapet of carved beasts that Belle and the Beast stand on during the film. The still image below shows the scale of the sculptures. I think they look more dramatic in the film that in reality. Scroll down and let me know what you think.

This bit of video had some shots of Chateau du Raray. For anyone who hasn’t seen this gem of a film its all on Youtibe in pieces. I suggest renting the DVD or better yet see it in the cinema if you have the chance. This one stays with you like a powerful dream.

I am reprinting this article from a dead blog of mine called My Mysterious Domain that was devoted to some of my favorite artistic inspirations and locations.



La Belle et la Bete by Jean Cocteau



The Unicorn Gate, or the Portal of Diana, leads to the magical mansion of  Le Chateau du Raray.  The French filmmaker, Jean Cocteau, used this  beautiful, atmospheric house, with its fine animal sculptures and curious parapet, for the palace of the Beast in his famous masterpiece.  For me, it is the quintessential Mysterious Domain.

A note on Beauty and the Beast by the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim: “Beauty and the Beast teaches that something must be loved before it is lovable… ” ” In the fairy tale is a magic mirror which reflects some aspect of our inner world…For those who immerse themselves in what the fairy tale has to communicate, it becomes a deep, quiet pool which at first seems to reflect our own image; but behind it we soon discover the turmoils of our soul — its depth, and ways to gain peace with ourselves, and with the world, which is the reward of our struggles.”

In my  Videos you will find two Utube clips from the film whose stills are depicted here. I hope these excerpts inspire you to rent or buy the DVD of one of the most wonderful films ever made: Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast


View of  le Chateau du Raray by Sir Simon Marsden



Interiors: the Domain of the mind



I am sure this is a set, but it is  unforgettable.

Fire of the soul.



The  parapet. This kind of love could only happen in a place like this.



The fabulous parapet as it really is



Le Chateau in Winter



The Lady of le Chateau and her Beast



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Artistic Influences in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

Time for a change of pace. This is a brilliant video that shows the artistic influences in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is Nosferatu, Jean Cocteau’s masterpiece Belle et la Bette and some German Romantic paintings in the mix.

The Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolists were very strongly referenced in most of images in the Coppola film, though this video doesn’t show that. I think this is what makes this version my favorite. Though I do like all of the film versions of Dracula for different reasons.

I Have Jewels

I have jewels hidden in this place – jewels that thy mother even has never seen; jewels that are marvellous to look at. I have a collar of pearls, set in four rows. They are like unto moons chained with rays of silver. They are even as half a hundred moons caught in a golden net. On the ivory breast of a queen they have rested. Thou shalt be as fair as a queen when thou wearest them. I have amethysts of two kinds; one that is black like wine, and one that is redlike wine that one has coloured with water. I have topazes yellow as are the eyes of tigers, and topazes that are pink as the eyes of a wood-pigeon, and green topazes that are as the eyes of cats. I have opals that burn always, with a flame that is cold as ice, opals that make sad men’s minds, and are afraid of the shadows. I have onyxes like the eyeballs of a dead woman. I have moonstones that change when the moon changes, and are wan when they see the sun. I have sapphires big like eggs, and as blue as blue flowers. The sea wanders within them, and the moon comes never to trouble the blue of their waves. I have chrysolites and beryls, and chrysoprases and rubies; I have sardonyx and hyacinth stones, and stones of chalcedony, and I will give them all unto thee, all, and other things will I add to them… … I have a crystal, into which it is not lawful for a woman to look, nor may young men behold it until they have been beaten with rods. In a coffer of nacre I have three wondrous turquoises. He who wears them on his forehead can imagine things which are not, and he who carries them in his hand can turn the fruitful woman into a woman that is barren. These are great treasures. They are treasures above all price. But this is not all. In an ebony coffer I have two cups of amber that are like apples of pure gold. If an enemy pour poison into these cups they become like apples of silver. In a coffer incrusted with amber I have sandals incrusted with glass. I have mantles that have been brought from the land of the Serer, and bracelets decked about with carbuncles and with jade that come from the city of Euphrates. What desirest thou more than this, Salome? Tell me the thing that thou desirest, and I will give it thee. All that thou askest I will give thee, save one thing only. I will give thee all that is mine, save only the life of one man. I will give thee the mantle of the high priest. I will give thee the veil of the sanctuary

King Herod: Salome — Oscar Wilde

Photo: Alla Nazimova 1922. Scanned by jane for Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans website: Enjoy!


A Little Halloween Cheer for You!

Sir Simon Marsden

Simon  Marsden: Ghost Hunter and Photographer of Ghostly Things….

The spooky photographs of Simon Marsden have long inspired me for stories.

Here is an interesting video that brings  Sir Simon together with Cradle of Filth

very effectively. I love how the film maker made the images jumpy and worn like a an old silent movie.

One of my favorites from Haunted France


Simeon Mardsen:

A little ‘video’ I made with pictures by ghosthunter Simon Marsden
and instrumental music by Cradle of Filth.
It shows greatly how well Cradle of Filth’s music fits with ancient/biblical/historical…

Annie Leibovitz: Beauty and the Beast for Vogue

A stunning Fairy Tale for us all!

Editorial: Beauty & the beast
Magazine: VOGUE
Model: Drew Barrymore
Photographer: Annie Leibovitz

Art Dolls for the Tattered Victorian Gothic in You: “Black-Eyed Suzie”

by Edward Gorey

While I spend the rest of this week finishing my original Gothic Faery Tale, “Roses, Briars, Blood”, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Gothic Tales in another medium: Art Dolls. I love interesting dolls, and have made some myself, based on fairy tale characters, over the years. I have a small collection of antique china dolls — the worst fear of tough Cockney men, several of whom told me, including a serious Ghost Buster from the East End of  London: “There’s nothing scares me more then one of them old china dollies!”

I found Black Eyed Suzie’s doll blog quite by accident. I am so glad I did! The artist’s real name is Sarah Faber, but she goes by Black Eyed Suzie.

The Black Eyed Suzie dolls remind me of  damp, foggy Victorian England; aristocratic ladies strolling around the ornamental gardens, lonely in their  turreted stately homes with their one-hundred rooms, or walking in the bleak streets of London in the rain. They are often haunted by ghosts of lost children, or suicides. Like the Governess in “Turn of the Screw”, they have a look of tragedy about them, both real, and imagined.

Black-Eyed Suzie

Sarah says in the video below, that some of her dolls  are inspired by Edward Gorey. They fit very well, I think, with my theme of Gothic Faery Tales. Faery Tales don’t only live in books or on the pages of a blog. They also appear in art, and  these dolls are art. Gothic Faery Tales also manifest in fashion, decor, music, and films. What we we perceive as the dark side of Faery Tales can be expressed through whatever medium creates that mysterious, disturbing, haunting atmosphere that pulls us where we know we should not go…

Here are some dolls to haunt you…

This one is called Agatha. She reminds me of a brilliant play I saw in Seattle in the early 1990’s based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher, combined with another piece that took place in a madhouse, and  done in the style of the Grande Guignol, 18-19th century Paris’s Theatre of Horrors. Madwomen romped freely in bare hoop shirts, like portable cages, showing off the bloodstained crotches of their pantaloons….

“Oh my God! He stormed into the house, carried me off, and ravished me. Then he threw me out of the coach into a ditch, saying he had had enough — that now I am useless, ruined!  “Good luck!” he shouted as he drove away. I can still hear the sound of the whip and the screaming horses. What will become of me? I shall be forced to seek revenge!”

We found this poor lady wandering about outside in the snow, unescorted, and without a cloak or bonnet. Does anyone know her name, or why she is out in the cold? What has happened to bring her such a pass? The only thing she remembers is the sound of howling….

In this video, Sarah discusses her inspirations and how she makes her beautiful dolls.

Though the shop be haunted by ghosts of dead dolls…

You must check out Black Eyed Suzie’s blog at: They are handmade, one of kind, and for sale to the most discriminating collectors…

We love comments. Let us know what you think please…or we shall have to bother you when you are alone, in the night time, in the dark, alone….

What are Gothic Faery Tales?

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What is the Difference Between Gothic Faery Tales and Traditional Fairy Tales?

Now that she is awake, Briar Rose returns to the palace and the Evil Queen. What else can she do now that she is Undead?

Gothic Faery Tales are reworkings of traditional Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or are based on their themes.

The Gothic Faery Tale writer is interested in the dark, disturbing elements of Faeryland. Whereas most contemporary re-tellings focus on sweetness, simplistic portrayals of good vs evil, and happily ever after endings, Gothic Faery Tales dive deep into the fears, anxieties, and superstitions of the subconscious.

The familiar fairy tales have been ‘Disneyfied’, or cleaned up, for children. Gothic Faery Tales evoke the primal, erotic, and blur the lines between god and evil. They are written for adults.

Vampires, werewolves, changelings, sorceresses, black magicians, dragons, all belong to the Gothic Faery Tale. It is possible that these figures of fright have always been part of the folklore fairy tales come from, or perhaps they crept in over time, leaving the pages of novels and the stage to inhabit the fairy tale realm and spice it up a bit. Of course the evil Queens and witches have always been part of Tradition and most likely held the door open for these others.

What is Our Attraction to the Dark?

Because the greatest mysteries have been forced into hiding; the most powerful truths are sequestered in the dark. To find the core, we must have the courage of a knight or a fool to enter the kingdom of shadows. To know ourselves deeply, as individuals, and as part of the whole, means to discover the vision of the light that lives within the blackest night.

Many great writers have used traditional fairy tales as a basis for their work.

The poet Anne Sexton  was one of the first writers to explore her inner conflicts through the use of fairy tales. Her book, Transformations, explores the limitations of being a woman in the 1950’s, and the dark psychological issues that kept her constantly on the brink of suicide.

It should come as no surprise that Gothic writers have a fascination with death. But isn’t death in its final form, for it is always transcended. The character who dies, or like Briar Rose and Snow White, fall into a 100 year sleep, are always brought back to life. Just as the Vampire is.  Faeries also inhabit the betwitx and between, the boundary between life and death.

There is an interest in transformation. Death is the ultimate transformer and shape-changer. The magnetism of the dead coming back to life mirrors the cycle of the seasons, mirrors the natural progression of living forms on Earth. This is primal. We cannot escape the cycles of seasons: birth, growth, decay, and death. Of all of these death is the most powerful. Yet, Gothic Tales suggest it is possible to live inside of death, to move, to relate, and to haunt. Gothic artists and writers reveal that to accept the facts is to transform them into something glamorous and fraught with desire.  Sometimes the dead become the living in the same gesture by which the living become the dead. It is the mirror realm of reversals where we walk head downwards like images reflected in a still pane of water.


Simply put, the favored seasons for Goths are Autumn and Winter. Seasons of decay and death, silence, and a strange quality of light.

The decadence of fringe societies is like the golden decay of Autumn, a time when approaching death produces a gaudy display of glory. Winter covers the coffin under a snowy blanket, making the grave a place of hibernation with the potential to incubate new life. Gothic Faery Tales often take place in dim, ornate, quiet rooms with high ceilings and vast sweeping stairs. Places that are haunted and haunt one with feelings of dread and revelation.

Some Gothic tales seem to have been written by authors immobilized at the threshold between childhood and adulthood, and unable to cross over because of some deep fear of the adult reality. Welcome to the nightmare, the adults seem to say. Here is the true darkness of corruption and loss.

This is the border from which the Gothic Faery Tale beckons with its darkling wonders.

Come across the threshold. The dark is painful and at the same time so achingly beautiful. Of course you are curious. We embody the mystery you seek.”

Here we shall tell secrets.

The parts we are not supposed to talk about. The hidden things. The secrets that give the fairy tale its power penetrating over us.

To set the tone, here is a short piece from  1979’s The Bloody Chamber by the legendary Angela Carter. Based on Snow White, it is entitled:

The Snow Child

Midwinter — invincible, immaculate. The Count and his wife go riding, he on a grey mare, she on a black one, she wrapped in the glittering pelts of black foxes; and she wore high, black, shining bots, with scarlet heels and spurs. Fresh snow fell on snow already fallen; when it ceased, the whole world was white. “I wish I had a girl as white as snow,” says the Count. They ride on. They come to a hole in the snow; this hole is filled with blood. He says: “I wish I had a girl as red as blood.” So they ride on again; here is a raven, perched on a bare bough. “I wish I had a girl as black as that bird’s feathers.”

As soon as he completed her description, there she stood, beside ther road, white skin, red mouth, black hair and stark naked; she was the child of his desire and the Countess hated her. the Count lifted her up and sat her in front of him on his saddle, but the Countess had only one thought: how shall I be rid of her?

The Countess dropped her glove in the snow and told the girl to get down to look for it; she meant to gallop off and leave her there but the Count said,” I’ll buy you new gloves.” At that, the furs sprang off the Countess’s shoulders and twined around the naked girl. then the Countess threw her diamond brooch through the ice of a frozen pond. ‘Dive in and fetch it for me,” she said; she thought the girl would drown. But the Count said,” is she a fish to swim in such cold weather?” Then her boots leapt off the Countess’s feet, and onto the girl’s legs. Now the Countess was as bare as a bone and the girl furred and booted; the Count felt sorry for his wife.  they came to a bush of roses, all in flower. “Pick me one,” said the Countess to the girl. “I can’t deny you that,” said the Count.

So the girl picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds, screams, falls.

Weeping, the Count got off his horse, unfastened his breeches and thrust his virile member into the dead girl. the Countess reined in her stamping mare and watched him narrowly; he was soon finished.

Then the girl began to melt. Soon there was nothing left of her but a feather a bird might have dropped,a blood stain, like the trace of a foxes kill on the snow, and the rose she had pulled off the bush. Now the Countess had all her clothes on again. With her long hand, she stroked her furs. the Count picked up the rose, bowed and handed it to his wife; when she touched it, she dropped it,

“It bites!” she said.