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. The blurred movement of … Read more

In which I embrace criticism

Ophelia, Sir John Everett Millais

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 … Read more

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 wings Too close to grow again,   And cast his quiver far away, His crimson roses shorn Of cruel barbs, and left … Read more

A Rossetti Reading List

While 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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

How to be beautiful

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. Yet it’s important to realize that what I don’t measure up to is a myth. That idea of perfection is not a harmless … Read more

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 … Read more

Venus Concordia

In her memorials of her husband, Georgiana Burne-Jones gives us a glimpse into the creation of Venus Concordia (pictured above). “After ‘The Fall of Lucifer’ was finished, ‘Venus Concordia’, long patiently waiting its turn, was taken up again.  With the three Graces who stand together at the right hand of the Goddess Edward took endless … Read more

Celebrating Shakespeare

Happy Birthday to William Shakespeare, born on this day in 1564.  Today is also the anniversary of the Bard’s death.  Dare I say it?  Dying on your birthday is a dramatically Shakespearean thing to do. When a young group of artists founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 they drew up a list of ‘Immortals’, made … Read more

Exploring La Bella Mano

Iconic Pre-Raphaelite paintings like Millias’ Ophelia, Rossetti’s Proserpine, or practically any Lady of Shalott garner a lot of attention and rightly so. Of course, there are also Pre-Raphaelite works that might not capture your eye right away when you see them in books or online, but in person they captivate you so unexpectedly and completely … Read more

In a World of Her Own

I’ve seen Pre-Raphaelite paintings of women dismissed as ‘languid’ or ‘vapid’ and many critics view them as sensual images created solely for the male gaze. That’s a fair argument, but I feel it’s a point of view that barely scratches the surface. To me, Pre-Raphaelite women are not shallow objects of beauty, but women focused … Read more

The Kelmscott Chaucer

In 1891, William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in an effort to realize his vision of creating exquisitely crafted books.  Joining him in this endeavor was his longtime friend Sir Edward Burne-Jones, who contributed over one hundred designs to Kelmscott Press editions. The books they created were unique in their craftsmanship and beauty, which you … Read more

Kirsty Stonell Walker on Fanny Cornforth

Today marks the  anniversary of the death of Pre-Raphaelite model Fanny Cornforth.  She held an important place in the life of artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, yet she has long been derided and  dismissed because of her dubious background.  Her final years were a mystery until biographer Kirsty Stonell Walker shed light on them. To honor … Read more

Elizabeth Siddal and Sylvia Plath are not your Suicide Girls

Saturday was the anniversary of Elizabeth Siddal’s death in 1862 and Sylvia Plath’s suicide in 1963. Both poets garner a lot of attention when February eleventh rolls around, and rightly so, because their lives and their work are important and should never be forgotten. Both poets have touched my life and I find it heartwarming … Read more

Circe the Enchantress

The works of John William Waterhouse often blend feminine beauty and mystery.  Above is Circe Invidiosa, his depiction of the goddess Circe. With a sumptuous  blend of greens and blues, he created a world that draws us in and mesmerizes. It’s as if you can feel yourself transported into Circe’s world. You can hear the water … Read more

Aesthetic Vampirism

Literature is filled with fictional portraits. Visual art and the written word can intertwine in glorious ways. Dorian Gray’s mysteriously aging painting springs to mind and both the image of Lady Audley in Lady Audley’s Secret and descriptions of art in The Woman in White are excellent examples of Pre-Raphaelite principles used within a novel. … Read more

May the Force Be With You

When Victorian artist Ford Madox Brown saw William Charles Macready play King Lear, the performance inspired the artist so much that he passionately sketched and painted several depictions of it. (You can see one above. Cordelia is modeled by Brown’s wife Emma, the fool is fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.) He may not have painted … Read more