Love and Wombats

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 Thaddeus Fern Diogones Wombat is a willing assistant here at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood.  Sure, he can be easily distracted and he has a tendency…
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Millais and Music

Did you know Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir John Everett Millais wrote song lyrics? To Psyche   “O Psyche, what a chance thou lost When Cupid was thy swain! Thou mightst have cut his tiny wings Too close to grow again,   And cast his quiver far away, His crimson roses shorn Of cruel barbs, and left…
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On Suicide

Friends sometimes say it’s strange that I can simultaneously be optimistic and bubbly while also being captivated by art filled with melancholy and death.  I’m not sure how to answer except to say that I consciously choose to embrace life to the fullest and believe that my positive mindset is one of my strengths.  But I’ve also encountered death, pain, and trials in my life that have helped me understand how fleeting it is.  I want to experience it…
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The Woodman’s Daughter

Sir John Everett Millais’ painting The Woodman’s Daughter is based on a poem by Coventry Patmore.  When first exhibited in 1851, this excerpt of the poem accompanied the work: She went merely to think she help’d; And, whilst he hack’d and saw’d, The rich Squire’s son, a young boy then, Whole mornings, as if awed,…
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The Grey Lady

‘The Grey Lady’ (1883) is an interesting work by Millais in which we see the ghost of a murdered woman.  The staircase was taken from St. Mary’s Tower, Birnam, a building that has since been demolished but you can see photographs of it here taken in 1963.  The artist’s son described the work in The…
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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  

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…
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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…
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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…
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The Eve of St. Agnes

Sir William Richmond, R.A. had this to say about Millais’ painting The Eve of St. Agnes and the innovative nature of Millais’ work:  “Millais’ literary sympathies were with Scott, Thackeray, and Dickens, and lastly, Louis Stevenson.  He loved anecdote and story as well as the literary embodiment of character; but I question if philosophical problem had much…
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Burne-Jones’ “Bogey Drawings”

“I do not know exactly where to place a class of drawings for which Edward was famous in our closest circle. We called them “Bogey drawings”, and they dealt fearlessly with the fearful subject. We shuddered and laughed as we saw the old fears of our childhood embodied in the march of a Bogey up…
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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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Millais drawing of Charles Dickens after death

Upon the death of Charles Dickens in 1870, the artist John Everett Millais traveled to Gad’s Hill Place to make a sketch of the novelist in state.   In The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, the artist’s son states that while he only intended to make a slight outline drawing, he was overcome…
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Happy Birthday Millais!

On the eighth of June in 1829, Sir John Everett Millais was born.  His artistic talent was obvious from a young age and he was the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools at age eleven. Millais was a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and his early Pre-Raphaelite works are shining examples of…
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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. “But where was the mouse to…
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The Happy Marriage of Effie Millais

The marriage of Sir John Everett Millais is often talked about due to its scintillating details. The marriage itself was not scandalous, Millais and his wife Effie seem to have had a happy life together. But the fact that prior to her marriage, Effie was married to critic John Ruskin is a source of infinite…
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The North-West Passage

In The North-West Passage, Millais used a retired sailor named Captain Trelawny for the old mariner.  Trelawny was described affectionately as a “jolly old pirate” and had a colorful past to prove it. The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, written by the artist’s son, mentions briefly that Trelawny was once abducted by…
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The Bridge of Sighs

The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais is my go-to source when blogging about Millias’ works. Written by his son John Guille Millais, it was published in 1899 as a two-volume set that is filled with biographical information and anecdotes about Millais works, models, and themes.  It is an invaluable resource for me and…
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Miss Beatrice Buckstone

Beatrice Buckstone posed for three of Millais’ works.   She was the granddaughter of actor/comedian John Baldwin Buckstone.  Finding Shakespeare has an interesting post showing Buckstone’s guestbook signature on his visit to the Bard’s birthplace, along with biographical information about the actor.  Millais’ son wrote about her in The Life and Letters of Sir John…
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Embrace the Night

The day has its own bright beauty. Morning may bring the possibility of a new beginning, but at night, everything slows down and the world takes on a different mood.  Night wears a deeper hue, things become varying shades of blues and purples.  It’s a slower form of beauty.  Introspective and melancholy. Is it any wonder…
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‘Mariana’, Sir John Everett Millais

When Millais first exhibited this painting at the Royal Academy, he displayed it with these lines of Tennyson: She only said, ‘My life is dreary- He cometh not’ she said She said ‘I am aweary, aweary – I would that I were dead.’ –From Tennyson’s poem Mariana The subject of Mariana was visited twice by…
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