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 … Read more

Lewis Carroll and the Pre-Raphaelites

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 … Read more

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ painting King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid is based on the story of an African King who had never felt any attraction towards women until he spotted a beggar woman. In this tale of love at first sight, King Cophetua declares that despite her low social standing, she will be his queen. … Read more

‘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 … Read more

Pyramus and Thisbe

The tale of Thisbe comes from book four of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In ancient Babylon, the families of Pyramus and Thisbe live in separate houses that share a roof. Over time, the two youths fall in love but are forbidden by their parents to see each other. Undaunted, the lovers use a crack in the wall … Read more

Pre-Raphaelites and Shakespeare: The Tempest

In The Tempest, Shakespeare tells us the story of Prospero, duke of Milan.  Prospero was dethroned by his brother Antonio and abandoned at sea with his three year old daughter Miranda.  Eventually they landed on an enchanted island, where the sole inhabitant is the creature Caliban.  Prospero works his magic and places Caliban and all … Read more

Forbidden Fruit

Mauvais Sujet is not your stereotypical, chocolate-box-pretty Victorian portrait.  She’s almost uncomfortable to look at, as she is both very young and almost sensual. On her desk you can see her name, Mary, scrawled in a childlike hand.   I’m not exactly sure what Madox Brown wants us to feel about her.  She’s obviously idle, choosing … Read more

Don’t look back!

Orpheus was given his lyre by the god Apollo and it was the Muses that taught him how to play.  His gift for music enchanted all living things: wild beasts, trees and even stones.  After his journeys with the Argonauts, Orpheus married his love Eurydice.  When Eurydice died from a snake bite, grief-stricken Orpheus felt … Read more

The lure of water-women

In Rossetti’s 1853 drawing Boatmen and Siren, one of the boatmen is captivated by the siren, but is saved from certain death by his companion.  The accompanying inscription was written by Jacopo da Lentino, a Italian poet of the Rennaissance era whose work was translated by Rossetti in The Early Italian Poets: I am broken, … Read more

Ulalume

As I mentioned in Rossetti and the art of death, Edgar Allan Poe was a great influence on DGR’s work. The Raven is a prime example of Poe’s poetry influencing Rossetti’s.  It was a catalyst for The Blessed Damozel, where Rossetti reversed the conditions of The Raven in order to tell the story from the deceased lover’s … Read more

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 … Read more

Waterhouse and Transformations

After my post about Clytie changing into the sunflower, I’ve been pondering transformations. Lamia is perhaps my favorite example of a dramatic transformation.  Based on the poem by John Keats, Waterhouse depicts Lamia after she has transformed from serpent to woman.  I adore the vivid imagery of Keats’ poem (She was a gordian shape of … Read more

Burne-Jones representations of Nimue

Le Morte d’Arthur captivated Edward Burne-Jones. His passion for all things Arthurian dated back to his days as an undergraduate at Oxford, when he and close friend William Morris would read the tales together.  Burne-Jones painted Arthurian subjects several times in his career, including the famous The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon. Merlin was … Read more

Love, Death and Potted Plants

William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil is currently in the news with the recent announcement that the Delaware Art museum will be auctioning the painting tomorrow.  The work has been in their collection since 1947 and it is sad news indeed that the Delaware has to sell it and three other works … Read more

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 had 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 … Read more

Alone and palely loitering: La Belle Dame sans Merci

La Belle Dame sans Merci translated from the French means “the beautiful lady without pity” or “the beautiful lady without mercy”.  It is possible that the poem is based on the ballad of ‘True Thomas’, also known as ‘Thomas the Rhymer’, which tells how a man was enchanted by the queen of Elfland and lured … Read more

The Art of Slumber

The Sleeping Model by William Powell Frith is a work that I find incredibly interesting. The tedious act of sitting for the artist has caused the model to fall asleep. Undeterred by her slumber, he paints her face as if she is awake. The mannequin sprawled in the corner behind her seems curiously alert. It’s … Read more

Lamia Broadcast

In my previous post I mentioned the adaptation of Keats’ Lamia on BBC Radio 4. The broadcast can be purchased and downloaded from AudioGo.  Thank you Cathy Baker for sharing the link with me!  I downloaded and listened to it and it is a beautiful reading and a perfect way to start my morning.

Lamia

I just discovered that in January there was an adaptation of Keats’ Lamia on BBC Radio 4.  I’m sorry that I missed that.  Lamia is one of my favorite works, here are two passages I enjoy the most. (You can read the complete poem here) Lamia has vivid imagery: “She was a gordian shape of … Read more

Collecting Doppelgangers

As mentioned in my previous post, I am making an effort to start archiving my web interactions that are related to this site. I recently posted How They Met Themselves, Rossetti’s painting of medieval doppelgangers (I also mentioned this work in Pre-Raphaelites, Doctor Who and how you see the world). So, with doppelgangers on the … Read more