Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reginald W. Machell

The academic journal of esotericism, Aries, from Brill in the Netherlands, carries a piece in the Volume 14, no. 2 issue, by Massimo Introvigne on “Reginald W. Machell (1854–1927): Blavatsky’s Child, British Symbolist, American Artist”:

Reginald Willoughby Machell (1854–1927) was a promising young artist from a prominent family in North-West England when he was introduced to Madame Blavatsky in 1886. Machell joined the Theosophical Society, abandoned his academic style and decided to devote his life to creating a didactic art aimed at illustrating Blavatsky’s doctrines. When the Theosophical Society split after Blavatsky’s death, Machell sided with the American faction led by William Q. Judge and later by Katherine Tingley. In 1900, the artist moved to Lomaland, Tingley’s Theosophical colony in California, where he remained for the next 27 years of his life. He continued to paint Theosophical subjects and to write articles on the relationship between Theosophy and the arts. He also emerged as a successful wood carver and as a gifted teacher of younger Theosophical painters, who formed the so called Lomaland Art Colony. Best remembered for a single iconic Theosophical painting, The Path, Machell was extremely popular for several decades among all branches of the Theosophical movement. At the same time, his almost exclusive focus on Theosophy led to his marginalization in wider artistic circles, although other teachers recruited by Tingley for the Lomaland art school, including Maurice Braun (1877–1941), eventually managed to be accepted by the American art establishment.

An indication of the artist's popularity among Theosophists can be seen in this stained glass window version of Machell’s “The Path” in the Library of the Leeds Theosophical Society in England.

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