Women of the Pre-Raphaelite Circle

Christina Rossetti Sister of Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and critic William Michael Rossetti. A talented poet in her own right, Christina can be seen in several early works of her brother’s, namely The Girlhood of the Virgin Mary and Ecce Ancilla Domini. Read more. Elizabeth Siddal Lizzie helped shape the concept of a “Pre-Raphaelite … Read more

Evelyn De Morgan

Evelyn De Morgan, the niece of Pre-Raphaelite artist John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, showed an aptitude for drawing at a young age, taking art lessons by age fifteen and submitting prize-winning studies at both South Kensington and the Slade Schools. When she married ceramicist William De Morgan, the two lovestruck artists forged a bond and dedicated … Read more

Evelyn De Morgan Centenary Symposium

Celebrate Evelyn De Morgan’s centenary. Purchase tickets at Eventbrite. Learn more at the De Morgan Foundation. Evelyn De Morgan was a radical Victorian artist who defied her gender and upper-class upbringing to become a commercially successful, professional artist. Her style develops from Neo-Classical, Italian Renaissance influenced work, which she was taught at the Slade School … 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

Tangled Up in Bloom

“Bloom where you are planted” is an adage we’ve all probably heard, and the sentiment is a positive one: do your best no matter what your circumstances. Clytie (above), painted by Evelyn De Morgan in the late 1880s, is perhaps an extreme example. De Morgan’s image is stunning, yet underneath that floral beauty is a … Read more

On Storms

“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.” Ludwig van Beethoven I’ve mentioned Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Storm Spirits on this site once before, when I was talking about how my moods are often directly tied to the weather.  I love a good thunderstorm, there is … 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

The Personification of Love

Today I have been pondering allegories of love in art.  Namely, the choices artists make when representing the concept of Love in physical form.  It is usually male and I assume that the root of this lies in Greek myths of Eros, god of love, or his Roman counterpart, Cupid.  Seen above is Hope Comforting … Read more

Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks

An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature. Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking. Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative, the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of … Read more

The Symbolism of Lepidoptera

Truth to nature was one of the main tenets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and an excellent example of this can be seen in the Death’s Head moth in William Holman Hunt’s painting The Hireling Shepherd (above). I’ve blogged about it many times before; it’s part of my Shakespeare post that I share yearly on the … Read more

Searching for Symbolic Windows

Last week I posted Evelyn De Morgan’s Hope in a Prison of Despair (seen above) on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page. A happy byproduct of sharing things on the Pre-Raph Sisterhood Facebook page is that when people comment, like, or share the post, it pops up in my own feed again.  I noticed that the … Read more

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. They … Read more

The Captives

Imprisonment and isolation appear frequently in Pre-Raphaelite art, in images like the Lady of Shalott, Mariana, and in Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Gilded Cage.  In De Morgan’s painting The Captives (above) confinement is shown in a far more threatening manner through a fantasy world made up of menacing dragons. Are the dragons merely dragons? … Read more

Evelyn De Morgan and Botticelli

Evelyn De Morgan

Kirsty Stonell Walker made an excellent point in Endless Digressions on Evelyn De Morgan:  she’s such a fascinating artist that it feels impossible to keep a post about her short.  Her work is large, vivid in color, and often depicts a spiritual theme or an allegory.  And if there’s anything I love, it’s an allegorical … Read more

Art is a Mirror

Meteyard, Lady of Shalott

When I was fifteen years old, my father taught me how to drive. I was eager, yet scared, and Dad wanted to give me ample opportunity to practice, so we drove together often. He’d pick a destination and I would drive while he critiqued and instructed me. Luckily, he is both an extremely patient man and … Read more

The Gilded Cage

Evelyn De Morgan painted The Gilded Cage in 1919.  This was her last work before her death and we can read a wealth of meaning into it.  Let’s look at the husband first: his appearance indicates that he is much older than his wife. He is finely clothed, right down to his jewelry. Gold with … Read more

Daughters of the Mist

Ethereal is a good word to describe Evelyn De Morgan’s painting, Daughters of the Mist.  De Morgan depicts these airy beings with a light color palette and the hint of a rainbow gives an idea of iridescent beauty. The De Morgan foundation states that the subject of this work is probably related to the original … Read more

Pre-Raphaelite Sighting in Murder, She Wrote

A new sighting has just been added to the Unexpected Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page. Episode 10 of the first season of Murder, She Wrote shows Aurora Triumphans by one of my favorite female Pre-Raphaelites: Evelyn De Morgan.  Aurora Triumphans currently hangs in the Russell-Cotes Gallery. In this episode, a villainous owner of an amusement park tries … Read more

I stretch my hands and catch at hope

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 … Read more


Eos is goddess of the dawn; she brings forth hope of the new day.  She opens the gates of Heaven for the sun to rise, allowing her brother Helios (the sun god) to begin his daily journey across the sky.  In the Homeric hymns, she is depicted as accompanying Helios. She is also the mother … Read more

‘The Dryad’, Evelyn De Morgan

Dryads are nymphs of the trees.  Their connection with the tree they lived in was so strong, they would die when the tree died. Purple irises are at her feet, symbolizing the minor Greek goddess Iris.  Iris is the messenger of the gods, particularly Zeus and Hera.  She is also the personification of the rainbow … Read more

Demeter and Persephone

In De Morgan’s painting,  we see Demeter as she mourns the loss of her daughter.  Stricken with grief,  she clasps her head–surrounded by shafts of wheat,  denoting Demeter’s role as goddess of the harvest. The tale of Demeter and Persephone personifies the depth of a mother’s love.  It is a myth about the death and … Read more


Ariadne was a daughter of Minos, king of Crete.  She defied her father by helping his prisoner, Theseus, who had been imprisoned in the Minotaur’s labrynth.  Ariadne gave him the thread that he used to find his way to freedom after killing the monster.  In helping Theseus, she risked the anger and retribution of her … Read more


Medea by Frederick Sandys Sandys portrays Medea as a powerful beauty and I especially love the abalone shell included among the other details of the painting.  She’s wearing a coral necklace mentioned in my post Rossetti and his baubles and in these posts at The Beautiful Necessity: The Pre-Raphaelites and “Hippie” Beads and Hippie Beads … Read more