La Ghirlandata

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

beatrice-featured

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
Shoot-Day/12

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

siddal-sleeping

“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

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

marigold

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

books

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

Stephanie-Pina-wombat12

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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Lewis Carroll and the Pre-Raphaelites

Dodgson-photograph-by-Reijlander

Alice in Wonderland has a strong hold on our popular culture.  Over a century has passed since it and the sequel Through the Looking Glass were written and Alice’s strange journeys charm us still.  How many times can we reinterpret this book on screen?  It seems to be an endless source of inspiration and the…
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Monstrous Women

Picture-32

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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To See the Gorgon’s Head

aspectamedusa

Medusa was once a beautiful maiden who was transformed by Athena into a Gorgon.  Of all three Gorgons, Medusa alone was mortal.  Her hair was a mass of writhing serpents.  One look upon her face would turn you to stone. Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, avoided Medusa’s deadly gaze by viewing her reflection in…
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Veronica Veronese

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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I stretch my hands and catch at Hope

'Pandora' (detail), Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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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Music in The Bower Meadow

'The Bower Meadow', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

For years, when I would see this piece I would focus on the women in the foreground. What’s their story? They play music and dance, yet there is a sense of sadness. Each of them looks in a different direction. They are in a group, but they seem alone.   Now my focus has shifted…
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Exploring Rossetti’s Home

'D.G. Rossetti and Theodore Watts-Dunton in the sitting room at Cheyne Walk.  Watercolour by Henry Treffry Dunn

“I was ushered into one of the prettiest and most curiously furnished old-fashioned parlours that I had ever seen. Mirrors and looking-glasses of all shapes, sizes and design lined the walls. Whichever way I looked I saw myself gazing at myself.”–Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his circle (Cheyne walk life), Henry Treffry Dunn. Henry…
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Her enchanted hair

And  her enchanted hair was the first gold./And still she sits, young while the earth is old –from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet Lady Lilith Lilith appears here with pale skin and clad in a white gown, making her luxurious hair the most vivid thing in the room.  In this painting, Dante Gabriel Rossetti is not…
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Katabasis: Descend into Hell

'Proserpine', Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  See Katabasis: Descend into Hell

After my recent post on Dante’s Divine Comedy, I’ve been thinking about metaphorical descents into the Underworld.  The rather beautiful Greek word for descent is katabasis, usually used to describe a hero’s journey into the underworld on a quest of some sort.  It’s a journey seen in not only a  variety of myths, but multiple…
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