A painting fit for the queen of the harvest

We’re up to the 3rd piece in Paige’s series where she’s dancing the romantic ballet, Giselle. Let’s continue her story!

This one’s a bit longer so grab a tea and find somewhere comfy. (Or, scroll down a bit and I’ll give you the short, short, short version…)

The villagers return from the grape harvest – handsome young men in yellow doublets and pretty girls in flouncing skirts and flowers in their hair. Giselle pulls Loys into their dance and joyfully skips faster and faster. But she tires easily and Loys leads her to sit and rest. But she loves to dance so much she rejoins the others and dances happily in Loys arms.

My sketches of Giselle's story from the ballet
My sketches of Giselle’s story from the ballet

Giselle’s mother, Berthe, comes out of her cottage, looking for her daughter.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Dancing,” Giselle says gaily, skipping around her mother.

“You musn’t,” Berthe says. She beckons everyone closer.

“Heed my warning. Out there, in the forest, are the graves of young women who have been betrayed by their lovers and died before their wedding days. Each night they rise as ghosts from their graves. They are the wilis. They capture any man foolish enough to be caught in their glade and force him to dance until he dies.”

She turns to her daughter, “I’m scared you’ll become one of them. What if your weak heart and your fondness for dancing is the death of you?”

“Mother, you worry too much,” Giselle says but allows Berthe to lead her back to their cottage, with a last lingering farewell to Loys.

As soon as Giselle is inside the cottage, Berthe gives Loys a disapproving look and shuts the door.


With the blaring of horns, a hunting party sweep into the village. Berthe and Giselle help the villagers set refreshments before their noble guests, the Duke of Courland and his daughter Bathilde. Giselle is struck by the Princess Bathilde and curtsies shyly. Bathilde is intrigued by Giselle’s beauty and talks to her with interest. They discover they are both engaged to be married. Bathilde takes the necklace from around her neck, and generously bestows it upon Giselle. Giselle is delighted. She looks for Loys, but he seems to have disappeared.

The queen of the harvest needs a crown - with a bit of a kiwi touch with the ferns.
The queen of the harvest needs a crown – with a bit of a kiwi touch with the ferns.

The hunting party departs and the villagers return to their celebration of the harvest. They gaily set a garland of flowers on Giselle’s head, crowning her Queen of the Harvest. Giselle begs her mother to let her dance and show everyone how happy and grateful she is. She dances, spinning and twirling, skirt flying.
All the villagers join in. Giselle runs to embrace her mother, and seeing Loys, pulls him joyfully into the dance with her.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): Giselle’s mother warns Giselle that her weak heart and fondness for dancing may lead to her join the wilis – ghosts of young women betrayed by their loves before their wedding days. A hunting party stops by and Giselle discovers that both she and the Princess Bathilde are engaged. The villagers are celebrating the harvest and crown Giselle queen of the harvest.

This is Paige dancing Giselle #3

(Here’s the first one if you missed it.)

Queen of the harvest by Ailene Cuthbertson. Digital painting (2016)
Queen of the harvest by Ailene Cuthbertson. Digital painting (2017) 30 cm x 30 cm

We tried a few different poses for Giselle, but it had to be this one. She’s just so joyous and free (and that leg in the air was effortless!) You can just spot the crown I made on her head. But that’s ok, it’ll appear later on.

Next time…

Things are about to get complicated. Is Loys really who he says he is? What will Giselle do when she finds out?

If you’d like to order this print, email me at ailene@oldmountainart.com and I’ll be happy to get it to you.

Keep on shining bright,