Wednesday was Lizzie Siddal’s birthday and my sidekick Thaddeus Fern Diogenes Wombat (T-Dub to his friends), has decided to learn more about her.
When learning about Lizzie, there’s a lot of misinformation to wade through, so I thought it best for T-Dub to read a personal account from someone who actually knew her. Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of artist Edward Burne-Jones, wrote about her friendship with Lizzie and I find her account of her touching.
Georgiana’s description of a their visit to the Zoological Garden is particularly fitting to share today.
“I wish I could recall more details of that day — of the wombat’s reception of us, and of the other beasts we visited–but can only remember a passing call on the owls, between one of whom and Gabriel there was a feud. The moment their eyes met they seemed to rush at each other, Gabriel rattling his stick between the cage bars furiously and the owl almost barking with rage. Lizzie’s slender, elegant figure — tall for those days, but I never knew her actual height–comes back to me, in a graceful and simple dress, the incarnate opposite of the “tailor-made” young lady. We went home with them to their rooms at Hampstead, and I know that I then received an impression which never wore away, of romance and tragedy between her and her husband. I see her in the little upstairs bedroom with its lattice window, to which she carried me when we arrived, and the mass of her beautiful deep-red hair as she took off her bonnet: she wore her hair very loosely fastened up, so that it fell in soft, heavy wings. Her complexion looked as if a rose tint lay beneath the white skin, producing a most soft and delicate pink for the darkest flesh-tone. Her eyes were of a kind of golden brown–agate colour is the only word I can think of to describe them– and wonderfully luminous: in all of Gabriel’s drawings of her and in the type she created in his mind this is to be seen. The eyelids were deep, but without any languor or drowsiness, and had the peculiarity of seeming scarcely to veil the light in her eyes when she was looking down.”
“Whilst we were in her room she shewed me a design she had just made, called “The Woeful Victory” –then the vision passes.” (1904) Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, MacMillan & Co.