Halloween, Pre-Raphaelites, and Keats

I think Sir John Everett Millais’ painting Speak! Speak! is a perfect Pre-Raphaelite image to share on Halloween.   The ghost of a bride appears to her love.  He reaches out to her, urging her to speak. It’s a haunting image and the concept had been on the artist’s mind for forty years before he…
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Shakespeare Magazine

I am honored and excited to be in the current issue of Shakespeare Magazine. Huge thank you to editor Pat Reid for publishing my article on Elizabeth Siddal and Ophelia. It’s a gorgeous issue! Read it free online You can follow Shakespeare Magazine on Facebook and Twitter. Visit ShakespeareMagazine.com  

Victorian Murder

In 1857, a twenty-two-year-old woman stood trial in Glasgow for murdering her former lover. It was the cause célèbre of the day and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti declared her too beautiful to be executed whether she was guilty or not, saying, “you wouldn’t hang a stunner!” (‘Letters of DG Rossetti’, Atlantic Monthly vol. 77) Rossetti…
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The Diaries of William Allingham

If you’re interested in studying the Victorian era seriously, then diaries and letters are important.  At times I feel like a 21st-century snoop, devouring personal journals and private correspondence whenever I get the chance.  Through contemporary accounts, the past may not always come alive but it shines through the mist more clearly.  The diaries of…
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T-Shirt Sale!

Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood T Shirts feature an image of Elizabeth Siddal seated at an easel, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  I’ve knocked $5 off so now you can get your Lizzie Siddal shirt for $15 plus shipping. Shirts are available in a slightly fitted women’s cut. Gildan brand, pre-shrunk. I ship USPS Priority Mail within the…
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Why write about Pre-Raphaelite women?

I receive many positive emails through this blog because, for the most part, people in the world are great.   The negative ones stand out, though, and occasionally eat at me. In a recent message, someone (I assume not a regular reader of this blog) questioned my feminism because I am devoted to Pre-Raphaelite art….
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Celebrating Elizabeth Siddal

On this day in 1829, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall was born (she dropped a letter L from her name when she became an artist).  I write about her frequently on this site; she’s a woman I admire immensely.  You can visit my other site, LizzieSiddal.com to see a timeline of her life, view her paintings, and…
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Lizzie Siddal: Love and Hate

Many people hear about Elizabeth Siddal through dramatic anecdotes of her life, such as the serious illness she suffered as a result of  posing in a bathtub for Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (above). In 1860 she married artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and died a mere two years later of a laudanum overdose.  The fact…
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Blanche Fury

Over the years, the term Pre-Raphaelite somehow took on a life of its own and no longer refers to just art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but a bohemian style of dress or a certain physical type. Usually, when I see a modern woman described as Pre-Raphaelite it refers to her wild and flowing hair. Is it…
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Life-in-Love

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet Life-in-Love fascinates me, especially when read with knowledge of two great loves in his life: Elizabeth Siddal and Jane Morris.   The first two lines suggest that his deceased lover’s life has somehow migrated into the body of his new love: Not in thy body is thy life at all/But in…
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What shapes our perception of Elizabeth Siddal?

 For those of us who admire Pre-Raphaelite art, Elizabeth Siddal is a familiar face.  Her story is repeated often and frequently embellished.  When beginning to research the life of Elizabeth Siddal, readers will invariably encounter this description of her written by poet William Allingham in his diary: “Short, sad, and strange her life; it must…
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#PRBday: The Faces of Elizabeth Siddal

Elizabeth Siddal made great contributions to the Pre-Raphaelite movement; she appears in a number of important works.  After posing for Deverell, Holman Hunt, Millais, and Rossetti she bravely moved to the other side of the easel and became a Pre-Raphaelite artist in her own right.   Since she has fascinated me throughout my adulthood, I think…
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Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

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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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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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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Unconventional Beauty

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 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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Dim Phantoms

Elizabeth Siddal, drawb by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

On this day in 1862, Elizabeth Siddal died.  In many accounts of her, you will see her death described as suicide.  Whether intentional or not, she lost her life due to an overdose of Laudanum.   You can read a transcript of the inquest here. The hills grow darker to my sight And thoughts begin…
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Shades of Dante

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Victorian poet, painter and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, grew up in the shadow of Dante Alighieri.  Although he lived several centuries before, Medieval poet Alighieri was a permanent fixture in the Rossetti household. Rossetti’s father, Professor Gabriele Rossetti, was an Italian expatriate who came to London in 1824. He was a…
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Rossetti and the art of death

“It is a subject from an old story of mine — a woman dying while her lover is painting her portrait”  (Dante Gabriel Rossetti) This is a story of beauty, art, and death. The study for Bonifazio’s mistress captures a scene from Rossetti’s story St. Agnes of Intercession.  It was intended to be published in…
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Ophelia’s Flowers

When John Everett Millais painted Ophelia he chose to depict her in the moments just before she drowns, a bold choice as most previous artists portrayed Ophelia before she ever enters the water.  This isn’t the only striking aspect of his painting, however.  In the midst of this picture of death, the plant life is…
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