Preparing for the Ball

I have a weakness for paintings with mirrors in them.  Preparing for the Ball by Emma Sandys is a perfect example.  According to Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists by Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, this painting has been known by more than one title:  Preparing for the Ball, Before the Mirror and The Lady of Shalott.  … Read more

The Beloved

Yesterday, when I shared that a detail from The Beloved can be seen on an ad for the Apple iPad mini, I realized that I’ve never posted about the painting on this site before.  Which is a shame since it is not only a striking work, but unusual.  Unusual in that it incorporates ethnic diversity … Read more

Burne-Jones: The Blessed Damozel

The Blessed Damozel, painted by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, is based on a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti of the same name.   Rossetti was nineteen when he wrote The Blessed Damozel, which tells the tale of two lovers who will one day be reunited in heaven. “The blessed damozel leaned out From the gold bar of … Read more

Sidonia von Bork by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

The intricate pattern of Sidonia’s gown is amazing. Painted in 1860, Sidonia von Bork is an early watercolor by Burne-Jones and is based on the book Sidonia the Sorceress.  Burne-Jones used model Fanny Cornforth (a Rossetti favorite) to portray Sidonia.  We see her standing in profile, apparently lost in thought while plotting and scheming.  In … Read more

Lucrezia Borgia

The tale of the Borgias captivated Rossetti. Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) was the member of a ruthless political family. Her father Rodrigo Borgia eventually became Pope Alexander VI. We see her in Rossetti’s painting washing her hands after the poisoning of her husband, Duke Alfonso Bisceglie. Rossetti had a tendency to paint women’s arms and necks … Read more

Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus

Based on Shakespeare’s Two Gentleman of Verona, this was one of William Holman Hunt’s most successful paintings. Lizzie Siddal, one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite models, modeled for Sylvia. We can not see her features in this image, though.  Hunt repainted them after criticism from John Ruskin. Hunt painted this piece outdoors in the Surrey countryside … Read more

Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor

  Fair Rosamund, mistress of King Henry II, is depicted in light colors that represent innocence and virginity. In contrast, Queen Eleanor wears an angry black. Despite being the wronged wife, it is the fair Rosamund that we pity. The fear is visible on her lovely, crying face. Rosamund is trying to flee, but it … Read more

The Blue Bower

  This painting is yet another of Rossetti’s works that depicts a woman playing music. It is also Rossetti’s last major portrait of Fanny Cornforth. I love the blue and white tile background, which is also reminiscent of the blue and white china that Rossetti and others in his circle collected. I highly recommend The Rossetti … Read more

Ophelia and the Pre-Raphaelites

Ophelia is a captivating character, one that inspired many of the Pre-Raphaelites and other Victorian artists. For those unfamiliar with Ophelia, she is Hamlet’s innocent young love interest in one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, Hamlet. Hamlet loved Ophelia – but after his meeting with the ghost of his father (Act I) he feels compelled to … Read more

The Tale of Pygmalion

The tale of Pygmalion dates back to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The paintings featured here are the second series painted by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Pygmalion is a sculptor who is disgusted by the behavior of local women, who are frivolous, shallow, and immoral. His decision to live a life of celibacy instead of choosing one of … Read more

The Bower Meadow

The Bower Meadow, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1872. Featured in the foreground are Maria Spartali Stillman (left) and Alexa Wilding(right). I’m not sure about the women in the background. Musical instruments, such as the ones seen here, seem to figure prominently in many of Rossetti’s works Veronica Veronese, The Sea-Spell, La Ghirlandata to … Read more

April Love

April Love ,  Arthur Hughes  (1855). William Morris purchased this painting after it was exhibited, narrowly beating John Ruskin who also desired it. The artist exhibited April Love along with these lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Miller’s Daughter: Eyes with idle tears are wet. Idle habit links us yet. What is love? for we forget: … Read more