Hylas and the Nymphs

Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse depicts a scene from Jason and the Argonauts.  Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas, who was killed in battle by Herakles.  Herakles then raised Hylas as his own. Known for both his striking beauty and his military prowess, Hylas was later taken to Argo by Herakles and became…
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Legendary Armor

It’s Mythic March! Created by my friends Grace Nuth and Lisa Stock, its premise is similar to NaNoWriMo: spend a month incorporating the beauty of myth into your daily life. Many participants will use the opportunity to get creative and embark on new projects and crafts. I’d like to use this month to look at how…
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Monstrous Women

I was browsing a bookstore and found an aisle offering boxed sets of movies packaged with the books they were based on. A little girl picked up Frankenstein and handed it to her mother, who rolled her eyes. “You don’t want that. That’s for boys.” I assume the mother had never heard of Mary Shelley….
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The Hours

“I have been working very hard in spite of all things, and I hope to finish the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and the ‘Hours’.  I think you never saw the last–not a big picture, about five feet long–a row of six little women that typify the hours of day from waking to sleep.  Their little knees…
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Embrace the Night

The day has its own bright beauty. Morning may bring the possibility of a new beginning, but at night, everything slows down and the world takes on a different mood.  Night wears a deeper hue, things become varying shades of blues and purples.  It’s a slower form of beauty.  Introspective and melancholy. Is it any wonder…
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King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ painting King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid is based on the story of an African King who had never felt any attraction towards women until he spotted a beggar woman. In this tale of love at first sight, King Cophetua declares that despite her low social standing, she will be his queen….
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I stretch my hands and catch at Hope

According to myth, after Prometheus stole fire from the gods, Zeus wanted to punish mankind. He ordered Hephaistos and other gods to create a woman that they would endow with gifts and beauty. Hephaistos created her lovely form; the Four Winds breathed life into her. Her beauty was given to her by Aphrodite. Zeus bestowed…
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Burne-Jones on Portraiture

I am guilty of often overlooking Burne-Jones’ portrait work in favor of his narrative paintings.  However, this morning I read a passage in which his wife discusses the artist’s opinions of the use of expression in his portraits: Another portrait painted this year, that of Miss Fitzgerald, a young American girl.  The art of portraiture…
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Nature as Feminine

In Listening to my Sweet Pipings, Waterhouse has shown the figure of Earth reclining as Pan serenades her.  Notice that Earth holds a poppy in her hand while Pan wears one in his hair.  The title of Waterhouse’s painting is taken from Hymn of Pan by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The notion of Nature as feminine…
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The lure of water-women

In Rossetti’s 1853 drawing Boatmen and Siren, one of the boatmen is captivated by the siren, but is saved from certain death by his companion.  The accompanying inscription was written by Jacopo da Lentino, a Italian poet of the Rennaissance era whose work was translated by Rossetti in The Early Italian Poets: I am broken,…
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Burne-Jones representations of Nimue

Le Morte d’Arthur captivated Edward Burne-Jones. His passion for all things Arthurian dated back to his days as an undergraduate at Oxford, when he and close friend William Morris would read the tales together.  Burne-Jones painted Arthurian subjects several times in his career, including the famous The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon. Merlin was…
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Aurora

A small pocket-book of this time contains a note made by Edward from a canal-bridge in a poor quarter of the city, which nearly thirty years afterwards he developed into the background of his “Aurora”.  The main outlines of building and canal are preserved in the picture, and Aurora with her cymbals comes lightly stepping…
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The Mirror of Venus

Burne-Jones’ painting The Mirror of Venus is a celebration of female beauty.  Ten women, often identified as Venus and her attendants, gather around their own watery reflections.  The landscape is no rival for their beauty — it’s a bleak land that was described by author Christopher Wood as ‘strangely lunar’. The painting doesn’t offer us…
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What is the “Pre-Raphaelite Woman”?

Women are central figures in Pre-Raphaelite art and this has given us the concept of a “Pre-Raphaelite Woman”. I frequently see the term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ in occasional news articles, usually describing an actress or singer with long curly hair.  Florence Welch is often described as Pre-Raphaelite and it’s definitely a look she has embraced. But was there…
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Skeletons in the closet

Fatima was painted by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in 1862 and depicts the last wife of Bluebeard, the ancient serial killer who has the bodies of his previous wives hidden away. You can read an annotated version of Charles Perrault’s Bluebeard online at SurLaLune Fairy Tales. (Originally published in January 1697) Bluebeard hails from the days when children’s…
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‘Astrologia’ and other examples of crystal balls

According to Georgiana Burne-Jones’ memorials of her husband, the model for Astrologia was Miss Augusta Jones.  I love the reflection seen on the crystal ball; if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that mirrored images are favorite details of mine. (Seeking out mirrors, Viola, Circe, The Impossible Mirror of Lady Lilith,…
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Portrait of Margaret Burne-Jones

Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ portrait of his daughter Margaret is another example of  mirror paintings that I adore. It’s not the mirror itself that I love; I am captivated by paintings whose mirrors that allow us a view of an opposite side of the room. Previous ‘mirror’ posts include Seeking out mirrors, Circe offering the cup…
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The Art of Slumber

The Sleeping Model by William Powell Frith is a work that I find incredibly interesting. The tedious act of sitting for the artist has caused the model to fall asleep. Undeterred by her slumber, he paints her face as if she is awake. The mannequin sprawled in the corner behind her seems curiously alert. It’s…
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Image of the Week: Cinderella

Note the blue and white china in the background.  It was highly sought after by both Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Burne-Jones.  Elizabeth Siddal casually referenced this in a brief message to Georgiana Burne-Jones: My Dear Little Georgie, I hope you intend coming over with Ned to-morrow evening like a sweetmeat, it seems so long since…
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St. Martin’s Church in Brampton

I am grateful to Dave Brooks for sharing his personal photos of  St. Martin’s Church in Brampton.  I would love to see this in person, especially with sunlight streaming through that glorious pelican.  Crafted by Burne-Jones, these are gorgeous examples of Pre-Raphaelite influenced stained glass.