Ron Embleton (biography)Medium:
Mixed Media on PaperSize:
25" x 17" (630mm x 440mm)Date:
1984This is the unique original Mixed Media art by Ron Embleton.
This is the original painting by Ron Embleton used to illustrate the book Aesop's Fables, retold by Lornie Leete-Hodge (Dean, London, 1985).
The miller, his son and the donkey is a well travelled fable. Thought to have ancient analogues, the earliest extant version is in the work of the 13th-century Arab writer Ibn Said. There are many eastern versions of the tale and in Europe it was included in a number of Mediaeval collections.
Since then it has been frequently included in collections of Aesop's fables as well as the influential Fables of Jean de la Fontaine.
This fable is about a man and his son who are accompanied by their donkey and meet constant criticism from passers-by of the way it is used or treated by them. The story's purpose is to show that everyone has their own opinion and there is no way one can satisfy all. There are four or five different elements to the story that are ordered differently according to version. When both walk beside the donkey they are criticised for not riding it. When the father rides, he is blamed for making his young son walk; when the son rides, he is blamed for leaving his elderly father on foot. When both ride, they are berated for overburdening their beast.
In later versions the father then exclaims that the only option left is to carry the donkey on his back; in others he does so, or father and son tie the donkey to a pole which they carry on their shoulders. This action causes general mirth and has an unhappy outcome, resulting in the donkey's death through one cause or another.
This original painting is from the Ron Embleton family collection.