The Diaries of William Allingham

William Allingham reading.  Painted by his wife, artist Helen Allingham.  Visit the Helen Allingham Society.

If you’re interested in studying the Victorian era seriously, then diaries and letters are important.  At times I feel like a 21st-century snoop, devouring personal journals and private correspondence whenever I get the chance.  Through contemporary accounts, the past may not always come alive but it shines through the mist more clearly.  The diaries of…
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Help #RememberFanny

Drawing of Fanny Cornforth by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In 1858, artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti met Fanny Cornforth and she was unlike any model he had ever used.  I don’t think that it is a coincidence that after meeting Fanny, his work developed a new and startling style. There is no denying that it is her face that appears in the first work that ushered in a…
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Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks


An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature.  Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking.  Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative,  the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of…
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The Symbolism of Lepidoptera

'The Hireling Shepherd', William Holman Hunt

Truth to nature was one of the main tenets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and an excellent example of this can be seen in the Death’s Head moth in William Holman Hunt’s painting The Hireling Shepherd (above).  I’ve blogged about it many times before; it’s part of my Shakespeare post that I share yearly on the…
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The Witch’s Heart


This morning I shared on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page  Edward Poynter’s portrait of Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of Sir Edward Burne-Jones who was an important figure in the second wave of Pre-Raphaelitism.   In ‘The Last Pre-Raphaelite’ biographer Fiona MacCarthy describes the watch Georgie’s wearing on a chain as a “ball-shaped gold watch studded with chrysolites…
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Sleep, Pale Sister


Before writing her famous bestseller Chocolat, Joanne Harris penned Sleep, Pale Sister, a provocative 19th-century story of madness, lies, and laudanum. Written in 1994, it was reprinted ten years later and introduced to a broader audience.  The recent reprint contains bonus materials in the back for further discussion including an author interview and background information…
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T-Shirt Sale!


Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood T Shirts feature an image of Elizabeth Siddal seated at an easel, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  I’ve knocked $5 off so now you can get your Lizzie Siddal shirt for $15 plus shipping. Shirts are available in a slightly fitted women’s cut. Gildan brand, pre-shrunk. I ship USPS Priority Mail within the…
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Embracing Dante Alighieri

'Giotto painting the portrait of Dante', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight path was lost”  So begins Dante’s journey through Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory), and Paradiso (paradise).  His travels through these  three areas of the afterlife make up La Divina Commedia, the Divine Comedy.  I came to the…
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Searching for Symbolic Windows


Last week I posted Evelyn De Morgan’s Hope in a Prison of Despair (seen above) on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page. A happy byproduct of sharing things on the Pre-Raph Sisterhood Facebook page is that when people comment, like, or share the post, it pops up in my own feed again.  I noticed that the…
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Why write about Pre-Raphaelite women?

'The Hours', Sir Edward Burne-Jones

I receive many positive emails through this blog because, for the most part, people in the world are great.   The negative ones stand out, though, and occasionally eat at me. In a recent message, someone (I assume not a regular reader of this blog) questioned my feminism because I am devoted to Pre-Raphaelite art….
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Celebrating Elizabeth Siddal

Photograph of Elizabeth Siddal

On this day in 1829, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall was born (she dropped a letter L from her name when she became an artist).  I write about her frequently on this site; she’s a woman I admire immensely.  You can visit my other site, to see a timeline of her life, view her paintings, and…
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Lizzie Siddal: Love and Hate

Elizabeth Siddal as Ophelia, painted by John Everett Millais. See Ophelia's Flowers

Many people hear about Elizabeth Siddal through dramatic anecdotes of her life, such as the serious illness she suffered as a result of  posing in a bathtub for Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (above). In 1860 she married artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and died a mere two years later of a laudanum overdose.  The fact…
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The Valkyrie’s Vigil


Seen above is The Valkyrie’s Vigil by Edward Robert Hughes. Valkyries have been described as ‘dark angels of death’, ‘choosers of the slain’ and ‘spirits of slaughter’.  These battle maidens appear on horseback with swords drawn, ready to guide those chosen to die to Valhalla. Usually depicted as warlike and strong, the Pre-Raphaelite-influenced works of…
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Lamia, seductive and monstrous

Lamia, Herbert James Draper

Seen above is Lamia, the Serpent Woman by Anna Lea Merritt.  Be wary of her beauty, for she means to consume you. In mythology, Lamia is a mistress of Zeus and her affair with him angered Hera so much that she transformed Lamia’s children into monstrous beings.  Grief-stricken, Lamia devours any child she finds, thus…
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Pan, Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Detail from Arthur Rackham's illustration of Pan from The Wind in the Willows

Above is a detail from Arthur Rackham’s illustration of Pan from The Wind in the Willows. I first became enchanted by Pan when, as a little girl, I read The Wind in the Willows. I was in love with that book from the moment Mole became fed up with his spring-cleaning, left his hole, and met…
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#WombatFriday: Miniature Rossetti, Jane, and Pandora


Inspired by artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s passion for wombats, every Friday is Wombat Friday at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. “The Wombat is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!” ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti This delightful Rossetti and Jane Morris figurine is available from a company called Department 56. I purchased mine on Amazon: Pandora (For a…
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That quivering expression


“Exquisite in every way; lovely in colour, most subtle the quivering expression of the lips, and sweetness of the tender face, shaken like a leaf by winds upon its dew, and hesitating back into peace.”–John Ruskin on Arthur Hughes’ painting April Love. *** In several of Hughes’ works, it is the evocative shades he uses…
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Rebel’s Daydream: An Animated Short Film


A breathtaking animated video celebrating the beauty and poetry of Pre-Raphaelite art. Directed and produced by Anna-Ester Volozh. Honestly, I was touched by the delicacy of this work. Absolutely stunning.  Watch below. Rebel’s Daydream – Tribute to the Pre-Raphaelites from Dragonbee on Vimeo.

Pre-Raphaelite Sighting in Whitechapel


New addition to the Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page.  William Holman Hunt’s painting Isabella and the Pot of Basil spotted in Whitechapel. If you are unfamiliar with this work, see my previous post Love, Death, and Potted Plants.   Whitechapel is a British detective series.  It’s dark and atmospheric with  plots that hearken back to historic Whitechapel crimes…
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Sidonia: From Burne-Jones to Tim Burton

1999 Miranda Richardson Stars In The Movie "Sleepy Hollow." directed by Tim Burton  (Photo By Getty Images)

I posted about Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ painting Sidonia von Bork in 2009, but Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood’s readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I thought I’d revisit it for those of you who are new to this blog.  Honestly, when I read some of the older posts on this site, I can’t help but…
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The Unique Beauty of Rossetti


I often see criticism of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work that describes his paintings of women as masculine. Some people see Rossetti’s frequent depictions of elongated necks and broad shoulders and are instantly dismissive. This is not a conventional beauty, they think, this is not a goddess. The fact that Rossetti’s paintings of women fall outside…
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