Ophelia Through the Kaleidoscope

Shakespeare began Hamlet with the ghost of a slain king, but if there is a lasting phantom that haunts us from the play, it is certainly the character of Ophelia.  She has inspired countless works of art, and each generation attempts to explore and reconstruct her in a myriad of ways.   My current rabbit…
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Lessons from ‘Possession’: The Myth of Melusine

(Part one of a series.) Possession is an intricate novel written in 1990 by A.S. Byatt. A combination of mystery, myth, and romance, it is a book that delves into the lives of two 19th century poets and the pair of 20th century-era academics that attempt to piece together the poets’ lives. When I assess…
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#WombatFriday: T-Dub Visits the Rossetti Clan

T-Dub Photobombs Great Moments in Pre-Raphaelite History. September 1863. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, photographs Dante Gabriel Rossetti with his sister Christina, mother Frances, and brother William. Thaddeus Fern Diogenes Wombat, known to friends as T-Dub, crashes their little soiree, much to Rossetti’s perplexed delight. Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge…
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Embracing Natural Magic

We all need a bit of magic in our lives. Some of us have more than others. Part of it may be influenced by our personality.  If we have a natural flair for seeking that particular kind of beauty, we can usually find it. But another part of savoring magic is paying attention to ourselves…
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Navigating Life’s Labyrinths

For me, myths are a touchstone, a framework that helps me work out some of life’s thorniest dilemmas. Recently, I’ve been dealing with a series of daunting, pivotal decisions. But I am now escaping that labyrinth – happily and on my own terms. BILL MOYERS: I like what you say about the old myth of…
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#WombatFriday: Adventures of T-Dub

This #WombatFriday, T-Dub is taking time to smell the marigolds because he’s exhausted from his recent adventures. It’s only to be expected when you’ve been on a rollicking journey through Pre-Raphaelite time. Tune in next week for T-Dub’s latest adventure. You can follow along on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page and Twitter.

The Grey Lady

The Grey Lady (1883) is an interesting work by Millais in which we see the ghost of a murdered woman.  The staircase was taken from St. Mary’s Tower, Birnam, a building that has since been demolished but you can see photographs of it here taken in 1963.  The artist’s son described the work in The…
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Following Bliss

“Sit in a room and read — and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time. This realization of life can be a constant realization in your living. When you find an author…
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Solitude and Forgiveness

The image above is Solitude by Frederic Leighton and I find it to be a comforting image. It grabs me. Leighton wrote about it to his sister, saying “the vehemence of winter has scooped and worn pools so deep that . . . you come at last to absolute dark brown night . . . no…
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Finding Fireflies Amidst the Fireworks

When Waterhouse’s exquisite Hylas and the Nymphs was controversially removed from exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery recently, I wrote that it would be far more beneficial to promote images that empower women instead of removing a masterpiece to provoke a reaction. The painting has since been returned to display at the Gallery, and it was…
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Bothered by Art Censorship? #MeToo

The Manchester Art Gallery announced this week that it has removed from exhibition the painting Hylas and the Nymphs by J.W. Waterhouse, and also the post cards of it in its gift shop. The gallery’s stated goal is to “challenge this Victorian fantasy” of “the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme…
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The Magic Down the Rabbit Hole

As I pursue the Pre-Raphaelites, I find it is the small details that captivate me, pulling me further and further down the rabbit hole.  One tiny detail that delighted me recently is this glimpse of what’s on the mantle in Burne-Jones’ sitting room. The photo above was taken by photographer Frederick Hollyer, who recorded several…
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#WombatFriday: Description of Lizzie Siddal

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 When we read about Elizabeth Siddal, it is quite often an account written with shades of sadness and melancholy, which is understandable as…
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Ellen Terry: Pre-Raphaelite Actress

The model for Millais’ painting of Portia has often been incorrectly identified as Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry. The model was actually Kate Dolan, although the mistake is understandable as she was painted wearing Ellen Terry’s costume: Of course I will lend you the dress (here it is.) or anything in the world that I possess,…
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On Storms

“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.” Ludwig van Beethoven I’ve mentioned Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Storm Spirits on this site once before, when I was talking about how my moods are often directly tied to the weather.  I love a good thunderstorm, there is…
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Cold Weather Reading

Today has been cold and grey, the kind of day that makes me want to do nothing other than curl up and read.  I’ve been reading A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight, which I recently scooped up at a library book sale. As I set it aside, I thought about the fact that reading…
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#WombatFriday: Rossetti’s Dove

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. You all know T-Dub is a worthy assistant here in my Pre-Raphaelite hood (Get it? Sisterhood? Hood?  Okay, I’ll move on.) I recently…
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The Wounded Dove

The Wounded Dove, painted by Rebecca Solomon, is a painting that resonates with me deeply.  The dove’s wing appears broken and I don’t know if the poor creature is accepting of the help being offered or if it struggles against those cradling hands.  Hurt and frightened, the only things that can possibly help are time,…
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On Gratitude

We celebrate Thanksgiving this week and I have a lot to be grateful for.  My greatest blessings are certainly my children and my family, but what I also rate high on my gratitude scale is what I absorb in my soul as I write Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood.  This blog is a lifeline for me and living…
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#WombatFriday Thoughts from Rossetti

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 .  You can follow #WombatFriday on Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood’s Facebook page. At the end of The Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1886), William…
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#WombatFriday: The Woman in White

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   You can follow #WombatFriday on Facebook . This week I have been rereading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  It has long…
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