Music is Hope

Have you ever noticed that Pandora is a lot like Eve?  Eve is to blame for being cast out of Eden, Pandora is to blame for unleashing evil into the world. Both stories can be ways to judge women harshly for their curiosity and instinctive need to pursue knowledge. Yet if Pandora is to be…
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Circe the Enchantress

The works of John William Waterhouse often blend feminine beauty and mystery.  Above is Circe Invidiosa, his depiction of the goddess Circe. With a sumptuous  blend of greens and blues, he created a world that draws us in and mesmerizes. It’s as if you can feel yourself transported into Circe’s world. You can hear the water…
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Menacing Beauty

“There’s always a siren singing you to shipwreck.” – Radiohead, “There, There” Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse depicts a scene from Jason and the Argonauts.  Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas, who was killed in battle by Herakles.  Herakles then raised Hylas as his own. Known for both his striking beauty and his…
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Painting the Soul

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  but it seems to be the only work of fiction…
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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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Pan, Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Above is a detail from Arthur Rackham’s illustration of Pan from The Wind in the Willows. I first became enchanted by Pan when, as a little girl, I read The Wind in the Willows. I was in love with that book from the moment Mole became fed up with his spring-cleaning, left his hole, and met…
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Sidonia: From Burne-Jones to Tim Burton

I posted about Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ painting Sidonia von Bork in 2009, but Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood’s readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I thought I’d revisit it for those of you who are new to this blog.  Honestly, when I read some of the older posts on this site, I can’t help but…
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A Mother’s Exile

Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of artist Edward Burne-Jones, was a devoted wife and mother.  Her love for her husband and children is obvious when reading any account of the Burne-Jones family.   Despite her joy at becoming a mother, Georgie poignantly described a sense of exile once she was no longer in the studio with her…
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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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Images of the Annunciation

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portrayal of the Annunciation is a continuation of the theme begun in his painting The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.  The moment that Mary learns she is to give birth to the Christ child has been depicted in art frequently since the Middle Ages. Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini is shockingly intimate in comparison.  We see…
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Art of the Story

In a post a few years ago, I said that my love of Pre-Raphaelite art probably stems from my lifelong love of stories.  Much of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work presents a narrative often inspired by literature and myth.  I have noticed recently that a number of Victorian artworks are not just the telling of a story,…
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Oracles and Sibyls

sib·yl: noun a woman in ancient times supposed to utter the oracles and prophecies of a god. literary a woman able to foretell the future. Sibyls appear often in art and fiction and I find them indicative of female power and mystery. They represent arcane knowledge of the future, usually sought by someone on an…
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Images of Ariadne

She’s a tragic heroine, so it is easy to see why she has appealed to artists. Even Agatha Christie adopted her name when created her alter ego Ariadne Oliver. 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….
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Sponsa de Libano

‘Awake O North wind; and come then south; blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out.’  (Song of Solomon 4:16) “I drew the South wind one day and the North wind the next.  Such a queer little model I had, a little Houndsditch Jewess, self-possessed, mature and worldly, and only about twelve…
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A #WombatFriday for Burne-Jones

Today is the birthday of artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, the artist who was the genesis of my interest for the Pre-Raphaelites when, at the age of seventeen, I first saw The Beguiling of Merlin.  I’m forty now.  Having spent my entire adult life in the throes of Pre-Raphaelite passion, I look back and realize…
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The bias against Fanny Cornforth

Sir Edward Burne-Jones used Fanny Cornforth as a model for his unfinished painting, Hope,  above.  Although incomplete, it remains one of my favorite paintings of Fanny.  As Jan Marsh points out in Pre-Raphaelite Women: Images of Femininity in Pre-Raphaelite Art, in Hope it is possible to ‘appreciate the ‘fine regular features’ that attracted so many admirers before her…
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To strive, to seek, to find

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 The birthday of Alfred,Lord Tennyson was this week, which brings to mind one of my favorite passages from his poem Ulysses: Tho’ much…
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Guest Post: Pre-Raphaelites in Venice

I am honored that Kris Waldherr has taken the time to share about the beauty of Venice and its influence on the Pre-Raphaelite circle. That same influence is echoed within the pages of  The Lover’s Path, which I think fellow Pre-Raphaelite enthusiasts will love.  Guest Post: Pre-Raphaelites in Venice by Kris Waldherr “There was never…
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Pre-Raphaelite Sighting in Deception

An exciting new addition to the Unexpected Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page! Thank you to Victoria Osborne for sharing. The 2013 thriller The Best Offer (Deception) stars Geoffrey Rush as an eccentric art auctioneer with a secret collection of portraits of beautiful women – including Burne-Jones’ Vespertina Quies and one of Birmingham Museums’ Rossetti drawings of Fanny Cornforth. Pre-Raphaelite beauties…
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Hylas and the Nymphs

Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse depicts a scene from Jason and the Argonauts.  Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas, who was killed in battle by Herakles.  Herakles then raised Hylas as his own. Known for both his striking beauty and his military prowess, Hylas was later taken to Argo by Herakles and became…
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Legendary Armor

It’s Mythic March! Created by my friends Grace Nuth and Lisa Stock, its premise is similar to NaNoWriMo: spend a month incorporating the beauty of myth into your daily life. Many participants will use the opportunity to get creative and embark on new projects and crafts. I’d like to use this month to look at how…
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Monstrous Women

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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