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Byam Shaw's most important painting unconnected with the War consisted of his large picture in the Academy of 1916, The Arrested Spear from a scene in Parsifal. It was purchased after his death by the late Lord Leverhulme and presented by him to the City Art Gallery, Vancouver.
Parsifal, hero of Richard Wagner’s opera of the same name, was a knight of the Arthurian Legend, finder of the Holy Grail. The scene portrays Parsifal standing in the garden of the evil magician Klingsor. The Flower Maidens lie at his feet, rejected by his indifference to their temptations. He seizes and holds suspended in mid-air the Sacred Spear, which Klingsor has hurled at him. As Parsifal makes the sign of the cross, Klingsor’s domain falls in ruins.
The Artist’s Studio
Byam Shaw studio sale, 1919; sold for £600 to:
Lord Leverhulme; gifted by him in 1925 to:
City Art Gallery Vancouver: transferred to:
Vancouver Centennial Museum (later the Museum of Vancouver); sold in 2011 to:
London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, 1916, number 973
Cole Rex Vicat, The Art & Life of Byam Shaw, Seeley, Service & Co, London 1932, pages 194-6, 221, 227
Royal Academy Illustrated, 1916, reproduced.
H F Gartner, Wagner the Dramatist, Opera Library, Calder Publications Ltd, London 1977, p. 144:
But she [Kundry] tries to trick him [Parsifal]: one hour of love will redeem both him and her. Parsifal pushes her away: only if she will show him the way to Amfortas can she be saved. At this she furiously summons Klingsor and his bondsmen to her aid. Klingsor appears and hurls his spear - the sacred spear he has taken fron Amfortas - at Parsifal, who arrests it in mid-air and with it makes a sign of the cross.