Birth of the Brotherhood

Mid-Victorian London, 1848: twenty-year old Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, 21, and John Everett Millais, 19, bond over their artistic passions and their shared disdain for the Royal Academy, believing that British art has become predictable and formulaic. Eager to forge a new direction, they are also intrigued to find inspiration from a time period … Read more

The Timeless Scourge of the Overdose

Well over a century-and-a-half has passed since her death, yet Elizabeth Siddal still commands attention through her art, poetry, and the Pre-Raphaelite works she appears in. As artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s muse, Lizzie was a powerful influence on his early Pre-Raphaelite works. She then boldly made the move from model to artist and embarked on a career … Read more

What’s up with the wombats?

“Rossetti was the planet around which we revolved, we copied his way of speaking. All beautiful women were “stunners” with us. Wombats were the most beautiful of God’s creatures.”–artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep Wombat Friday began in 2013 when, in a moment of frivolity, I posted several pictures of wombats with cake and books in a … Read more

The Artist’s Soul

‘See me, and know me as I am.’   At the age of twenty-one, Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote the short story Hand and Soul, which was published in The Germ, a short-lived magazine created by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Not only does the story offer a glimpse into the young Rossetti’s beliefs and aspirations, it seems to … Read more

Wombat Friday! Now with extra lemon!

T-Dub, resident wombat at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, is craving lemons. The source of his delight can be traced to the symbolic details found in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting La Bella Mano.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted La Bella Mano in 1875. When planning it, he described it as “a good-sized Titianesque subject — a girl washing her … Read more

A Wombat’s Breakfast

T-Dub, trusty sidekick to Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, has been reading about what life was like in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s home. You know what he was interested in? The food. Ah, little wombat friend, you are a creature after my own heart. Novelist George Meredith was apparently disgusted by Rossetti’s breakfasts, which he described as “Plates of … Read more

#WombatFriday: Adventures of T-Dub

This #WombatFriday, T-Dub is taking time to smell the marigolds because he’s exhausted from his recent adventures. It’s only to be expected when you’ve been on a rollicking journey through Pre-Raphaelite time. Tune in next week for T-Dub’s latest adventure. You can follow along on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page and Twitter.

Finding Fireflies Amidst the Fireworks

When Waterhouse’s exquisite Hylas and the Nymphs was controversially removed from exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery recently, I wrote that it would be far more beneficial to promote images that empower women instead of removing a masterpiece to provoke a reaction. The painting has since been returned to display at the Gallery, and it was … Read more

The Woman in White

The Somnambulist  by Sir John Everett Millais is a captivating image and many speculate that it is inspired by the Wilkie Collins novel The Woman in White.  Millais was a close friend to both Wilkie Collins and his brother, artist Charles Collins.  The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, written by the artist’s son, … Read more

Aspecta Medusa

Medusa was once a beautiful maiden who was transformed by the goddess Athena into a Gorgon. Of all three Gorgons, Medusa alone was mortal. Her hair was a mass of writhing serpents and a glimpse of her face would turn you to stone. Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, avoided Medusa’s deadly gaze by viewing … Read more

On Aging

Jane Morris in The Hour Glass by Evelyn De Morgan

Jane Morris was swept into the Pre-Raphaelite world at age eighteen.  She was La Belle Iseult to William Morris, who declared “I cannot paint you; but I love you”. Then she was Pandora, Mnemosyne, Astarte Syriaca and other assorted goddesses to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Years later, after the Pre-Raphaelite bloom had faded from her cheeks, we see Jane on canvas again in Evelyn … Read more

A Pre-Raphaelite Look at Hitchcock’s Vertigo

Warning: This post contains spoilers. If you have not seen Vertigo, you might want to back away slowly because I do not want to ruin your experience You have been warned. “Do you believe that someone out of the past, someone dead, can enter and take possession of a living being?”–Gavin Elster to Scottie in … Read more

Autumn Inspires

I find Autumn to be healing.  Life takes on a distinctive flavor and the speed may be different, but the possibilities are endless.  It’s an inspiring season that delights the senses with colors and smells in a way I find comforting.  It’s no wonder that many artists and poets have paid homage to it in … Read more

#WombatFriday: Rossetti’s Beasts

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 Last week my worthy assistant T-Dub learned all about Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s exotic menagerie of animals.  He’s still reading William Michael Rossetti’s compilation … Read more

Roman Widow

A beautiful Roman widow plays music beside her husband’s urn.  According to Walker Art Gallery, the marble cinerary urn is based on one Rossetti owned and the instruments were from Pompeian wall paintings.  While I don’t know exactly which images Rossetti used as his source, I did find this fresco from Pompeii via Wikimedia Commons: Most … Read more

The Imprisonment of Pia

In 1868, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Jane Morris as La Pia de Tolomei, who appears in Canto V of Purgatorio in the Divine Comedy. Pia’s story is a heartbreaking. Dante encountered her during his journey through Purgatory, where she remains since she has died without absolution. She says to Dante “remember me, the one who is Pia; Siena made … Read more

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