What shapes our perception of Elizabeth Siddal?

Photograph of Elizabeth Siddal

 For those of us who admire Pre-Raphaelite art, Elizabeth Siddal is a familiar face.  Her story is repeated often and frequently embellished.  When beginning to research the life of Elizabeth Siddal, readers will invariably encounter this description of her, written by poet William Allingham in his diary: “Short, sad, and strange her life; it must…
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Rossetti’s Models

The Bower Meadow, 1871-72, Oil on Canvas

Like his Pre-Raphaelite brethren, Dante Gabriel Rossetti used live models in his works.  Throughout the course of his career, the same faces grace his canvasses, ranging from family members to lovers.  Occasionally, models Elizabeth Siddal and Alexa Wilding are confused for each other. Other models may be misidentified completely. so this post is intended to…
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Perdita, the lost girl


Perdita (seen above) was painted by Frederick Sandys with  Mary Emma Jones as the model.  Also known by her stage name Miss Clive, Mary Emma Jones appears in several of Sandys’ works.  They never married, but the couple did have ten children together.  Sandys was a bit of a rogue when it came to his…
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A Mother’s Exile


Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of artist Edward Burne-Jones, was a devoted wife and mother.  Her love for her husband and children is obvious when reading any account of the Burne-Jones family.   Despite her joy at becoming a mother, Georgie poignantly described a sense of exile once she was no longer in the studio with her…
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The Eve of St. Agnes


Sir William Richmond, R.A. had this to say about Millais’ painting The Eve of St. Agnes and the innovative nature of Millais’ work:  “Millais’ literary sympathies were with Scott, Thackeray, and Dickens, and lastly, Louis Stevenson.  He loved anecdote and story as well as the literary embodiment of character; but I question if philosophical problem had much…
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New Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood T Shirts


I have just restocked  Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood T-Shirts.  Short sleeve, slightly fitted women’s cut.  Now available in black, blue, and green.  If you are interested in long sleeve, I will have some available in February.  Go to the T Shirt page to place your order!  Shirts are $20 plus shipping.  Payments are processed through PayPal. Pre-Raphaelite…
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Burne-Jones’ “Bogey Drawings”


“I do not know exactly where to place a class of drawings for which Edward was famous in our closest circle. We called them “Bogey drawings”, and they dealt fearlessly with the fearful subject. We shuddered and laughed as we saw the old fears of our childhood embodied in the march of a Bogey up…
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Sighting: Pre-Raphaelite art in Law and Order: SVU


New addition to the Unexpected Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page. Season 17, episode 1 of Law and Order: SVU included Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Belcolore and Lady Lilith.  It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the art in the killer’s home reflects his obsession with red hair.  

The Captives

The Captives

Imprisonment and isolation appear frequently in Pre-Raphaelite art, with the repeated images of the Lady of Shalott, Mariana, and in Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Gilded Cage.  In De Morgan’s painting The Captives (above) confinement is shown in a far more threatening manner through a fantasy world made up of menacing dragons. Are the dragons…
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Images of the Annunciation


Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portrayal of the Annunciation is a continuation of the theme begun in his painting The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.  The moment that Mary learns she is to give birth to the Christ child has been depicted in art frequently since the Middle Ages. Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini is shockingly intimate in comparison.  We see…
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Art of the Story


In a post a few years ago, I said that my love of Pre-Raphaelite art probably stems from my lifelong love of stories.  Much of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work presents a narrative often inspired by literature and myth.  I have noticed recently that a number of Victorian artworks are not just the telling of a story,…
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Oracles and Sibyls

'Sibylla Palmifera', Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Model: Alexa Wilding

sib·yl: noun a woman in ancient times supposed to utter the oracles and prophecies of a god. literary a woman able to foretell the future. Sibyls appear often in art and fiction and I find them indicative of female power and mystery. They represent arcane knowledge of the future, usually sought by someone on an…
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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 Goodreads giveaway: Don’t miss your chance to snag a copy of  Beauty Secrets of the Martyrs by Verity Holloway. Don’t miss #Muffvent at…
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Images of Ariadne

Ariadne on the Island of Naxos, George Frederic Watts

She’s a tragic heroine, so it is easy to see why she has appealed to artists. Even Agatha Christie adopted her name when created her alter ego Ariadne Oliver. Ariadne was a daughter of Minos, king of Crete.  She defied her father by helping his prisoner, Theseus, who had been imprisoned in the Minotaur’s labrynth….
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We Are Villains All


Synopsis: 1890, Daneburton, Hampshire: Maud Blake, spinster companion to flighty, young Emeline Hutchinson, is the least important woman at the weekly poetry circle. She sits at the back, barely able to see the poet who presides over them all, but she requires only his words to fuel her dreams. For twenty years Max has lived peacefully…
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#WombatFriday Links


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 week I’d like to share the song The Wood Maiden from Laurie Ann Haus.  I find it captivating, haunting, ethereal.  The beautiful…
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Thanks for #PRBday!


After a weekend of worldwide tragedy, to spend a day where Pre-Raphaelite art filled my Twitter feed was a welcome diversion.  It was great fun and I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to the Pre-Raphaelite Society, Serena Trowbridge, and Madeleine Pearce for orchestrating #PRBday. I took a few screenshots to share how beautiful Twitter…
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#PRBday: 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.   Since she has fascinated me throughout my adulthood, I think…
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Wombats: a delight, a madness


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 Above the wombats are admiring Rossetti’s drawing How They Met Themselves.  This doppelganger image has been on my mind lately.  I shared it…
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#PRBday is coming!

'Lorenzo and Isabella', Sir John Everett Millais

The Pre-Raphaelite Society will be hosting #PRBday on Twitter this Sunday, November 15th. It’s a fun way to discuss the Pre-Raphaelites and I look forward to reading your tweets and talking with you, so don’t be shy!  Participants should include the hashtag #PRBday to join in on the discussion. If you don’t already, I suggest…
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November Wombats


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  November is finally upon us.  2015 seems to have flown by and looking back on the year I realize that most of it…
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Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

Photograph of Elizabeth Siddal

In the early years of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, artist Walter Deverell discovered Elizabeth Siddal working in a millinery shop.  After modeling for his painting Twelfth Night, Siddal posed for several Pre-Raphaelite painters, including William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.  It was the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was captivated by her. He drew and…
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