The artwork on the front of Sylvan Awe‘s new album Pilgrimage (their third) is one that will make most people stop in their tracks and stare for a while. It’s a slightly cropped and inverted image of a 1920 painting by the German artist Ferdinand Leeke, who died three years after completing it. The title is “Parsifal on the Way to the Grail Castle“.
Leeke seems to be best known for his depiction of scenes from Wagnerian operas, most of them commissioned by Richard Wagner’s son Siegfried after his father’s death. “Parsifal on the Way to the Grail Castle” doesn’t seem to be one of those 10 commissioned paintings, but may have been similarly influenced, given that Wagner did compose an opera called Parsifal, based on the legend of the Grail Knight.
What that legend has to do with Pilgrimage is open to conjecture, though Parsifal himself engaged in a pilgrimage back to the sanctuary where ailing Grail Knights kept watch over the Grail, after Parsifal vanquished the necromancer Klingsor and retrieved from him the Holy Spear (which pierced the side of Jesus as he died on the cross), ultimately reuniting it with the Grail.