Image showing an example of a planchette  ©

Georgiana Houghton’s Spirit Drawings

Georgiana Houghton’s first spirit drawings were created with a small wooden mechanism called a planchette. In the catalogue for her exhibition in 1871 Georgiana described them as: Study of Curves, A little more Design, Still more Design, Cecil’ s Flower, Cecil’ s Fruit, Zilla’s Flower: with pencils of two colours, left unfinished, as being satisfactory, Zilla’s Flower and Zilla’s Fruit – three in number, representing that she was a daughter, a wife and a mother.

The remaining works were executed by hand and fell into several series. The first were Flowers, Fruits and Plants of Houghton’s close family and friends who had passed, as well as some well known names. They included: Warrand Houghton, Sidney Alexander Houghton, Cecil Angelo Houghton, William Borer, Zilla Rosalia Warren and her husband John Neville Warren, Helen and William Harman Butler, the Stringer family, Samuel, Mary and George Warrand and several of Georgiana’s first guide Henry Lenny. Famous names were William Shakespeare, H.R.H.the late Prince Consort, H.R.H.Victoria, Princess Royal of England, Bartoldy, Murillo, Mesmer and William Blake.

Houghton’s work developed into a series of sacred drawings under the guidance of 70 archangels which reflected her faith as a staunch Christian Spiritualist. Subjects include The Trinity, The Lord, The Apostles, God, Spirit, Peace, Wisdom, Truth, Love, Salvation, Unveiling of the Heavens.

The last series were Crowns and Monograms which were of subjects that could be still on the earthly plane such as Queen Victoria and even Georgiana herself. Several of Houghton’s friends and fellow spiritualists fell into this category such as Mrs Oliphant, Mrs Spear, the medium D D Hume, Annie Howitt Watts, William Tebb, Mr and Mrs Guppy and Cromwell Varley.

Described as the Sacred Symbolist Georgiana would use specific colours in her artworks to represent a person or spirit’s characteristics. The following charts illustrate Houghton’s palette and their corresponding traits.

Yellows symbolised God the Father, Faith and Wisdom

gambogeGamboge ⇒ Faith
indian yellowIndian Yellow ⇒ Probity
yellow ochreYellow Ochre ⇒ Delicacy of mind
light amberLight Amber ⇒ Earnestness
gallstoneGallstone ⇒ Liberality of hand & soul
aureolinAureolin ⇒ Orderliness
brown pinkBrown Pink ⇒ Economy
king's yellowKing’s Yellow ⇒ Energy
italian pinkItalian Pink ⇒ Perseverance
chrome no. 2Chrome #2 ⇒ Gratitude
lemon yellowLemon Yellow ⇒ Cheerfulness
cadmiumCadmium ⇒ Courage
raw siennaRaw Sienna ⇒ Considerateness

Oranges symbolised Power

chinese orangeChinese Orange ⇒ Unselfishness
orange cadmiumOrange Cadmium ⇒ Moral courage
orange chromeOrange Chrome ⇒ Gentleness

Violets symbolised Heavenly Happiness

violet carmineViolet Carmine ⇒ Religion
mixed violetMixed Violet ⇒ Religious Fervour
purple madderPurple Madder ⇒ Sense of duty
purplePurple ⇒ Cordiality

Blues symbolised God the Son, Hope and Truth

cobalt blueCobalt ⇒ Truth
ultramarineUltramarine ⇒ Integrity
intense blueIntense Blue ⇒ Decisiveness
smaltSmalt ⇒ Strength of friendship
blue verditerBlue Verditer ⇒ Singleness of mind
prussian bluePrussian Blue ⇒ Courteousness
antwerp blueAntwerp Blue ⇒ Sensitiveness

Reds symbolised God the Holy Ghost, Charity and Love

crimson lakeCrimson lake ⇒ Love
carmineCarmine ⇒ Tenderness
madder carmineMadder Carmine ⇒ Charity in thought
scarletScarlet ⇒ Ardour
vermilionVermilion ⇒ Zeal
burnt carmineBurnt Carmine ⇒ Steadfastness
rose madderRose Madder ⇒ Sincerity
purple lakePurple Lake ⇒ Power of appreciating the great and good in others
dahlia carmineDahlia Carmine ⇒ Nobility of soul
dragon's bloodDragon’s Blood ⇒ Sympathisiness

Greens / Browns symbolised Earthly Hopes

mixed greenMixed Green, Gamboge and Prussian Blue ⇒ Freshness of soul
emerald greenEmerald Green ⇒ Self control
veronese greenVeronese Green Filial love
sap greenSap Green ⇒ Patience
deep greenDeep Green ⇒ Fortitude
emerald oxideEmerald Oxide of Chromium ⇒ Parental love
burnt umberBurnt Umber ⇒ Love of justice
sepiaSepia ⇒ Nursing powers
burnt siennaBurnt Sienna ⇒ Clearness of judgement
vandyke brownVandyke Brown ⇒ Frankness
brown madderBrown Madder ⇒ Adjustingess
bistreBistre ⇒ Attractiveness

For more information on Georgiana Houghton’s spirit drawings visit our biography, exhibitions and publications pages. To discover more about mediumistic art visit our sister website