Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks

An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature.  Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking.  Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative,  the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of…
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Rossetti’s Models

Like his Pre-Raphaelite brethren, Dante Gabriel Rossetti used live models in his works.  Throughout the course of his career, the same faces grace his canvasses, ranging from family members to lovers.  Occasionally, models Elizabeth Siddal and Alexa Wilding are confused for each other. Other models may be misidentified completely. so this post is intended to…
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Proserpine and Blogging About Art

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Proserpine is an arresting and visually striking work.  Blogging about it once has never been enough; it resurfaces in my posts again and again. The myth of Proserpine/Persephone is a story that resonates with me on multiple levels, so I think that in writing about it I am attempting to explore…
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Art is a Mirror

When I was fifteen years old, my father taught me how to drive.  I was eager yet scared; I couldn’t believe that I had actually passed the test to get my learner’s permit. Dad wanted to give me ample opportunity to practice before beginning Driver’s Ed at school so we drove together often.  He’d pick…
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The Gilded Cage

Evelyn De Morgan painted The Gilded Cage in 1919.  This was her last work before her death and we can read a wealth of meaning into it.  Let’s look at the husband first: his appearance indicates that he is much older than his wife. He is finely clothed, right down to his jewelry. Gold with…
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Freddie Mercury and the madness of Richard Dadd

Richard Dadd is a Victorian artist that both shocks and fascinates me.  He demonstrated a great talent for drawing early in life and entered the Royal Academy at age twenty. He founded The Clique with fellow artists Augustus Egg, Alfred Elmore, William Powell Frith, Henry Nelson O’Neil, John Phillip and Edward Matthew Ward. Which means that…
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The Significance of Three

I have an obsessive/compulsive relationship with the number three that has been in place for most of my life. For many years, it was so subtle that neither I or loved ones noticed.  It existed in childhood but was overlooked.  I have now been a parent for nineteen years, and it is something my children…
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La Ghirlandata

La  Ghirlandata was painted at Kelmscott Manor after a period of great difficulty for Rossetti — he had attempted suicide earlier that year. Despite his paranoia and mental troubles, his work during this period is vibrant and beautiful.  This painting,in particular, is appealing to me with its stunning contrast of glorious red hair and verdant…
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Find Something Beautiful

Since it is now the beginning of Summer, Sweet Summer by John William Waterhouse seems a fitting painting to contemplate.  Reclining in the grass, a beautiful woman relaxes next to a cool fountain on what is a presumably hot summer day. Her fan lies unused next to her while her hand lightly holds a rose….
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The Unrequited Love of Mariana

Above is Sir John Everett Millais’ painting Mariana, which I’ve blogged about before in this post. Her dress is bluer than blue, the stained glass is exquisite, but let us have a moment of silence for the little mouse who died for Millais to include him in the work. When Millais first exhibited this painting…
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The North-West Passage

In The North-West Passage, Millais used a retired sailor named Captain Trelawny for the old mariner.  Trelawny was described affectionately as a “jolly old pirate” and had a colorful past to prove it. The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, written by the artist’s son, mentions briefly that Trelawny was once abducted by…
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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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Miss Beatrice Buckstone

Beatrice Buckstone posed for three of Millais’ works.   She was the granddaughter of actor/comedian John Baldwin Buckstone.  Finding Shakespeare has an interesting post showing Buckstone’s guestbook signature on his visit to the Bard’s birthplace, along with biographical information about the actor.  Millais’ son wrote about her in The Life and Letters of Sir John…
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Veronica Veronese

“The girl is in a sort of passionate reverie, and is drawing her hand listlessly along the strings of a violin which hangs against the wall, while she holds the bow with the other hands, as if arrested by the thought of the moment, when she was about to play.  In color, I shall make…
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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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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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‘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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Eos

Eos is goddess of the dawn; she brings forth hope of the new day.  She opens the gates of Heaven for the sun to rise, allowing her brother Helios (the sun god) to begin his daily journey across the sky.  In the Homeric hymns, she is depicted as accompanying Helios. She is also the mother…
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Who is The Blessed Damozel?

The Poem:  Drawing inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel explores the theme of lovers separated by death.  Like Poe’s Lenore, the damozel (an archaic form of damsel) has died and Rossetti introduces her to us as she looks down upon her lover from heaven.  Rossetti later told Hall…
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Effie Millais describes ‘Apple Blossoms’

Apple Blossoms captures a relaxing outing on a spring day.  Liverpool Museums points out that there are many different ways to interpret this painting, especially with the odd appearance of a scythe on the right hand side of the picture. On the face of it, this is a picture about youth and beauty, but it has…
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Regina Cordium (Queen of Hearts)

In 1859, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Bocca Baciata and it was a radical change in style. Afterwards his work gravitated towards images of a single female, quite often depicted from the bust up and surrounded by flowers, jewelry and other symbolic objects. Why the change? In the late 1850’s Rossetti had definitely matured as an…
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