There is a problem that arises as you become more and more immersed in Pre-Raphaelite art: it is quite hard to stick to a small, select group of favorites. I think I love them all. I wonder if I am losing my ability to be discerning.
I have noticed that my feelings about paintings seem to shuffle and shift around. There are my main favorites, the ones that first drew me in and spoke to me in the early days when I first discovered the Pre-Raphaelite world. Then there are others that I’ve seen a million times and not paid much attention to, until one day they leap out at me and I am captured.
Today, I love Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Not these Pandoras:
Those are wonderful representations of Jane Morris as Pandora, both are studies in colored chalks. But the Pandora that captivates me utterly and completely is this one:
Usually one of the things I enjoy most about Rossetti’s work is his vivid use of color, especially his greens. That’s not the case here. The darkness draws me in, her pale and inscrutable face is the focus. The celebration of hues is set aside, living on other canvasses where he has cast muse after muse in a goddess or femme fatale role. No flowers. No props or spiral hair pins. Pandora stands alone in a dark and colorless world with the knowledge of what she has unleashed from the box.