by Faze –
When I’m not busy studying the Arcane Arts, I try to take time to appreciate art. When storming through Castle Ravenloft, I noticed new artwork on the walls. After defeating Strahd with my fellow Alliance members, I leisurely strolled through the castle to take in the art. All the images here are found in Castle Ravenloft.
There are a total of 24 pieces of unique art in Castle Ravenloft. By that I mean that there are multiples of individual pieces, but when you eliminate the duplicates there are 24 pieces to appreciate.
I’m not going to cover all 24 pieces here. What, you say? This is supposed to be a blog entry about Castle Raveloft art! That’s just the thing. Many of the pieces Strahd has in Castle Ravenloft also appear in Protector’s Enclave (six pieces) and some are available in your Stronghold (five pieces).
As an interesting side note on the artwork of the Stronghold, there are five pieces of art that I thought I would find in Castle Ravenloft but did not. They are: Haunted Mists, Barovian Knight, Barovian Tarokka, Barovian Temptress and Barovian Monk.
That leaves 13 potentially new pieces of art! Why do you say potentially, Faze? Because many of the pieces look very familiar to the existing artwork, like the Tiefling to the left.
Even with my high Intelligence score, I can’t recall if I’ve actually seen this fellow before or not. Yes, he looks like my cousin that everyone finds really annoying at our family reunions, but I digress. The warlock to the right also fits into the “similar” category.
There are also portraits of characters we’ve seen before, but in a new pose. For example the wizard to the left appears in multiple poses and his image is available for placement in the Stronghold and viewable in Protector’s Enclave.
Rounding out the “familiar” artwork category are two portraits which I don’t recall seeing before. The female tiefling feels like a piece similar to the Stronghold art, but the portrait of the red bird accompanied by a human has brushstrokes similar to the new art in Castle Ravenloft.
The last two categories of artwork in Castle Ravenloft are landscapes and notable personas. We’ll cover the landscapes first.
The landscape of Castle Ravenloft to the left is clearly a happier time, when the sun shone and the land had seasons full of color. Perhaps such a time never existed, and this painting was done for Strahd to capture a scene he will never see again. One thing is certain: we adventurers have never seen a Castle Ravenloft like this, even when day breaks in Ravenloft.
Conversely, the image to the right is akin to what we see in Ravenloft today. The moon sits behind Castle Ravenloft, the castle towering over the land and indeed, over nature itself. For some reason, however, I don’t feel the same sense of ominous dread in the image that I feel when I’m in the demiplane. There’s a brightness to the painting, and you can clearly see the color of the trees and purple hues of night.
The last two landscapes, which we see below, are a combination of known and unknown stories. The first landscape below is clearly Barovia. We often speak to Esmerelda d’Avenir by the well. The second landscape, on the right, holds a lone horseman approaching a grand arch flanked by headless guardians. Perhaps this was Strahd undertaking a quest and he had this painted to communicate the grandeur of his deed to the observer.
The final category of art is notable persons.
The two paintings of notable persons we’ll cover first are clearly Strahd. The first painting, to the right, is Strahd as ruler, warrior and military leader. The light shines in from the window behind him, but his confidence beams even brighter. Clearly his unassailable demeanor in our final battle was born from this confidence. The armor makes Strahd appear almost human; as a vampire he has no need for such mortal protections. Perhaps this is how Strahd sees himself at his best.
The second painting is perhaps my favorite. This is Strahd “in repose”. While still a ruler and warrior, as evidenced by the sword he wears, he is not in his full armor, giving a casual, approachable feel to the portrait. His face does not beam with the confidence in the prior painting. He is thoughtful, or perhaps resigned to his fate. He is clearly noble. His furs and clothing denote the finest quality. The polish on what armor he wears seems to generate light. Yet Strahd is clearly the beast. Pay close attention to the painting, dear observer, for Strahd the vampire casts no reflection in the mirror. We see the reflection of the wine apparently floating magically in the mirror.
The final notable person painting is perhaps the person who drove Strahd down the path that ultimately led him to the beast he is today, Tatyana, the Barovian woman with whom Strahd fell in love. During our adventures in Ravenloft we saved Ireena, who I theorize Strahd believes has the reincarnated soul of his love, Tatyana.
In the image she wears a fur on her shoulder akin to Strahd’s daily wear. Her hair is red, unlike the dark sisters who defended Castle Ravenloft from our approach. Yet despite her color, she appears formal and cold, or perhaps trapped. Finally, the painting strokes are not detailed and the brushwork is rushed. Perhaps the painting was hurriedly done years after her death as Strahd realized he could not longer remember the details of her visage.
That’s all. I hope you enjoyed the tour through the art of Castle Ravenloft.
As always, good hunting my fellow adventurers!