Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Siddal!

The hills grow darker to my sight And thoughts begin to swim. (from Elizabeth Siddal’s poem At Last) Lizzie was discovered in millinery shop, a simple girl who was tall for the time and had a mass of red-gold hair. Her first sitting was for Walter Deverell’s Twelfth Night. On this day in 1829, Elizabeth Eleanor…
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Exploring Sponsa de Libano

Sponsa de Libano is inspired by the Song of Solomon:  ‘Awake O North wind; and come then south; blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out.’  (Song of Solomon 4:16) “I drew the South wind one day and the North wind the next.  Such a queer little model I had, a little…
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#WombatFriday with Cleopatra

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 Thaddeus Fern Diogenes Wombat is a sleepy bloke today, but knowing his love for history and drama I’ve chosen to wake him up…
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Love is Enough

William Morris’ Love is Enough has been on my mind this morning. “He makes a poem these days–in dismal Queen Square in black old filthy London in dull end of October he makes a pretty poem that is to be wondrously happy; and it has four sets of lovers in it and THEY ALL ARE HAPPY…
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Emma Sandys

Pictured above is  A Lady Holding a Rose by Emma Sandys.  Sadly little is known about  Sandys in comparison to her more famous brother, Frederick.  I recommend Serena Trowbridge’s post The Mysterious Emma Sandys.  (If you are unfamiliar with Serena’s blog, Culture and Anarchy, I’m just going to go ahead and suggest that you should bookmark…
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#WombatFriday: A New Chapter

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 In 2013, on a whim, I started Wombat Friday.  For four years I have faithfully posted photos of toy wombats with Pre-Raphaelite art…
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The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

One of my favorite posts on this site is Monstrous Women, where I briefly discuss my admiration for not only Mary Shelley, but women in fiction and myth that can be considered monstrosities.  They pop up on Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood repeatedly.  Lamia, for example, or Sidonia and  Medusa.   The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter…
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Not in thy body is thy life at all

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet Life-in-Love fascinates me, especially when read with knowledge of two great loves in his life: Elizabeth Siddal and Jane Morris.   The first two lines suggest that his deceased lover’s life has somehow migrated into the body of his new love: Not in thy body is thy life at all/But in…
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Signs of Life

In 1865, Dante Gabriel Rossetti orchestrated a series of images of Jane Morris to be photographed by John Robert Parsons.  While they are all interesting and beautiful to me, my favorite is the one above for one reason:  that scarf. There’s a gauzy scarf that is seen repeatedly in Rossetti’s works.  Here’s just a few…
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How to Fly

There’s a horror that sets in just before a new beginning.  It can cripple you. The key is to understand the process.  Like everything else in life, there are stages.   First there’s fear.  It is a cold fear that paralyzes. Dive into it with a rush, it is like plunging deep into freezing water…
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In which I embrace criticism

I’ve seen comments online that say the Pre-Raphaelites mainly appeal to adolescents.  Even this 2007 piece from The Guardian quotes a senior curator at Tate Britain saying they’d have complaints from teenage girls if they didn’t show Pre-Raphaelite art.  At first I bristled at this, knowing that it is a style of art that appeals to…
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Millais and Music

Did you know Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir John Everett Millais wrote song lyrics? To Psyche   “O Psyche, what a chance thou lost When Cupid was thy swain! Thou mightst have cut his tiny wongs Too close to grow again,   And cast his quiver far away, His crimson roses shorn Of cruel barbs, and left…
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Tragic Lovers

Early Death by Elizabeth Siddal Oh grieve not with thy bitter tears The life that passes fast; The gates of heaven will open wide And take me in at last. Then sit down meekly at my side And watch my young life flee; Then solemn peace of holy death Come quickly unto thee. But true…
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Summer Reading

Sometimes my reading life is haphazard and I dip into whatever strikes me fancy. (The right book, more often than not, seems to find me instead of the other way around.) Other times, I get a great deal of joy in creating an active reading plan to pursue. On Monday I posted William Michael Rossetti’s…
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A Rossetti Reading List

I’ve been re-reading Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Family Letters, edited by his brother William Michael Rossetti.  I was struck by this passage about DGR’s reading habits.  First of all, I love William Michael’s descriptors.  Saying Rossetti ‘drunk deep of an author’ and ‘surged through its pages like a flame’ presents a reading life that mirrors the…
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The Horses of Neptune

Artist Walter Crane was greatly influenced by Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites.   His painting The Horses of Neptune is an iconic image depicting the power of the sea.  The god Neptune charges forward with his horses, who boldly rise from the waves.  There’s not a specific narrative that I know of, but Neptune has long…
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The Faces of Elizabeth Siddal

Elizabeth Siddal made great contributions to the Pre-Raphaelite movement; she appears in a number of important works.  After posing for Deverell, Holman Hunt, Millais, and Rossetti she bravely moved to the other side of the easel and became a Pre-Raphaelite artist in her own right.   She has fascinated me throughout my adulthood and today I’d…
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Burne-Jones Armor

Two of Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ largest projects were a series of paintings based on stories drawn from  mythology and fairy tales:  The Perseus Cycle and The Briar Rose series.  In each series he created huge breathtaking panels that he worked on painstakingly for years.  In this post, I’d like to focus on the armor found…
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On Suicide

Friends sometimes say it’s strange that I can simultaneously be optimistic and bubbly while also being captivated by art filled with melancholy and death.  I’m not sure how to answer except to say that I consciously choose to embrace life to the fullest and believe that my positive mindset is one of my strengths.  But I’ve also encountered death, pain, and trials in my life that have helped me understand how fleeting it is.  I want to experience it…
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How to be beautiful

Like every woman ever, there have been many times in my life when I’ve seen models or actresses and compared my own looks to them and realized I don’t measure up. I will never measure up. Then I grew wiser and realized that what I didn’t measure up to is a myth. That idea of…
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Happy Birthday, Dante Gabriel Rossetti!

Today marks the anniversary of Rossetti’s birth in 1828.  A founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Rossetti’s works capture his unique view of beauty.  His paintings of women during the latter stage of his life are often criticized for their unusual physical attributions: elongated necks, cupid bow lips, and  languid gazes.  And, of course, all…
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“A study of varied greens”

“The girl is in a sort of passionate reverie, and is drawing her hand listlessly along the strings of a violin which hangs against the wall, while she holds the bow with the other hands, as if arrested by the thought of the moment, when she was about to play.  In color, I shall make…
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