Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

Photograph of Elizabeth Siddal

In the early years of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, artist Walter Deverell discovered Elizabeth Siddal working in a millinery shop.  After modeling for his painting Twelfth Night, Siddal posed for several Pre-Raphaelite painters, including William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.  It was the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was captivated by her. He drew and…
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Supernatural

'How The Met Themselves', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Pre-Raphaelites sought fidelity to nature in their works, recreating the natural world with painstaking attention to detail. They did not, however, limit themselves to realistic subjects.  Their paintings often placed supernatural or fantasy subjects from mythology and literature into realistic settings. Such depictions with their vivid hues and photographic realism resulted in works that were…
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A #WombatFriday for Poe


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 Edgar Allan Poe died October 7th in 1849, quite soon after the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed.  Poe was a huge inspiration for poet…
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Hide Me Among the Graves


Tim Powers doesn’t write about your run-of-the-mill vampires.  His undead may feed upon you, but in return they will inspire words and poetry that you could never have written before.  I found Powers’ mythology to be a refreshing twist.  In Hide Me Among the Graves, the artistic Rossetti family deals with the vampiric curse of…
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Autumnal Beauty


I’m particularly happy to welcome Autumn this year, with its crisp breezes and the promise of adventure.  Autumn Leaves, painted by Sir John Everett Millais, is a wonderful example of the beauty I find in the season.  It is an impressive example of a Pre-Raphaelite twilight and Millais has captured an unmistakable Autumn glow.  His…
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Proserpine and Blogging About Art

'Proserpine',  Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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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Book review: Ophelia’s Muse


The romance of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal lends itself well to fiction. It’s a story that has it all: beauty, pathos, and the synergy of artistic creation that flowed between them. Author Rita Cameron’s new book Ophelia’s Muse tells the story of Elizabeth Siddal’s discovery by the Pre-Raphaelite circle and how it led…
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The bias against Fanny Cornforth

'Hope' (unfinished) Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Sir Edward Burne-Jones used Fanny Cornforth as a model for his unfinished painting, Hope,  above.  Although incomplete, it remains one of my favorite paintings of Fanny.  As Jan Marsh points out in Pre-Raphaelite Women: Images of Femininity in Pre-Raphaelite Art, in Hope it is possible to ‘appreciate the ‘fine regular features’ that attracted so many admirers before her…
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Art is a Mirror

'I am Half-Sick of Shadows', Sidney Harold Meteyard

When I was sixteen 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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Four grey walls, and four grey towers


After posting about Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Gilded Cage, I began to think about other paintings that depict women who are trapped and imprisoned in some way, paintings that prompt me to ponder limitations and boundaries. The Lady of Shalott is perhaps the most obvious example that comes to mind.  Based upon the poem…
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Slumber revisited

Study for Flaming June

Recently, an unknown study for Leighton’s Flaming June was discovered. The discovery was almost cinematic: Pre-Raphaelite study discovered behind door in English mansion. After the discovery, the sketch sold for a whopping £135,000 through Sotheby’s. I have a rather large framed print of Flaming June in my bedroom, so it is an image I see daily, although I…
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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…
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Unconventional Beauty

Jane Morris

Author Henry James had seen Rossetti’s paintings of Jane Morris during a visit to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s studios.  Upon seeing Jane in person, he had this to write: “A figure cut out of a missal – out of one of Rossetti’s or Hunt’s pictures – to say this gives but a faint idea of her,…
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The Unrequited Love of Dante and Beatrice


In reality, Dante loved Beatrice from a distance and they had little to no contact with one another. The  real Beatrice Portinari probably never had any idea of the depth of his passion for her.  Yet she was to become one of literature’s most famous figures. Dante Alighieri first saw and fell in love with Beatrice…
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The Unrequited Love of Mariana

'Mariana', Sir John Everett Millais

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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Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Stills from the film 'Macbeth' 2014. 

Directed by Justin Kurzel, DoP Adam Arkapaw. Produced by Iain Canning, Laura Hastings-Smith & Emile Sherman

Unit stills Photography by Jonathan Olley

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death… —Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28) I’ve just read Variety’s review of the new adaptation of the Scottish play. I can…
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Healing, resting


“There is nothing stable in the world; uproar’s your only music.”-John Keats Several months ago I was diagnosed with a dermoid tumor on my ovary. If you aren’t squeamish, google dermoid. It’s a real monster.  However, I am extremely grateful for mine. It saved my life. During exams and tests leading up to surgery, my…
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Birds in the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Vision of Fiammetta, 1878, Oil on Canvas

While from the quivering bough the bird expands His wings. And lo! thy spirit understands (from A Vision of Fiammetta, Dante Gabriel Rossetti) Birds appear frequently in both Rossetti’s paintings and poems.  In the late 1860s, after his wife Elizabeth Siddal’s  death, Rossetti began to be plagued by health and mental problems. A chaffinch landed…
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti photographed by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

This week marks the anniversary of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s death in 1882.  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…
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The Significance of Marigolds


Marigolds were the first flowers I planted as a child. I have a distinct memory of my mother buying them and preparing the flower bed, showing me how to use the spade and how to space the flowers so that they weren’t either too close to each other or too far apart.  Isn’t it funny…
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Happy World Poetry Day


To celebrate World Poetry Day, I share one of my favorite poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Sudden Light  I have been here before,                 But when or how I cannot tell:          I know the grass beyond the door,                 The sweet keen smell, The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.            You have been…
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The Mystery of Fanny Cornforth


Once again, it’s #WombatFriday!  This week, I am sharing a story with you because for Pre-Raphaelite enthusiasts, this is a profound discovery. Fanny Cornforth was a frequent model for for Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Historically, biographers have written more about his models Elizabeth Siddal and Jane Morris, leaving Fanny to the sidelines. Her past as a prostitute…
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