Aspecta Medusa

Medusa was once a beautiful maiden who was transformed by the goddess Athena into a Gorgon.  Of all three Gorgons, Medusa alone was mortal.  Her hair was a mass of writhing serpents and a glimpse of her face would turn you to stone. Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, avoided Medusa’s deadly gaze by viewing…
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#WombatFriday: Peeling Back the Layers

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 Diogenes Wombat is a worthy assistant at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood.  He eagerly absorbs everything he encounters about the Pre-Raphaelites and I enjoy…
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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…
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Autumn Inspires

I find Autumn to be healing.  Life takes on a distinctive flavor and the speed may be different, but the possibilities are endless.  It’s an inspiring season that delights the senses with colors and smells in a way I find comforting.  It’s no wonder that many artists and poets have paid homage to it in…
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Exploring The Portrait

The Portrait is a poem I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, because writing about things is how I unpack and explore them.  One thing I love about poetry, though, is its prismatic quality.  The facets I see may not be what you see, but if we compare notes then new colors emerge….
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The Imprisonment of Pia

In 1868, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Jane Morris as La Pia de Tolomei.  Pia appears in Canto V  of Purgatorio in the Divine Comedy. Pia’s story is a sad one. Dante encountered her during his journey through Purgatory, where she remains since she has died without absolution.  She says to Dante “remember me, the one who is Pia; Siena made…
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Not in thy body is thy life at all

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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Signs of Life

In 1865, Dante Gabriel Rossetti orchestrated a series of images of Jane Morris to be photographed by John Robert Parsons.  While they are all interesting and beautiful to me, my favorite is the one above for one reason:  that scarf. There’s a gauzy scarf that is seen repeatedly in Rossetti’s works.  Here’s just a few…
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Tragic Lovers

Early Death by Elizabeth Siddal Oh grieve not with thy bitter tears The life that passes fast; The gates of heaven will open wide And take me in at last. Then sit down meekly at my side And watch my young life flee; Then solemn peace of holy death Come quickly unto thee. But true…
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Summer Reading

Sometimes my reading life is haphazard and I dip into whatever strikes me fancy. (The right book, more often than not, seems to find me instead of the other way around.) Other times, I get a great deal of joy in creating an active reading plan to pursue. On Monday I posted William Michael Rossetti’s…
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A Rossetti Reading List

I’ve been re-reading Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Family Letters, edited by his brother William Michael Rossetti.  I was struck by this passage about DGR’s reading habits.  First of all, I love William Michael’s descriptors.  Saying Rossetti ‘drunk deep of an author’ and ‘surged through its pages like a flame’ presents a reading life that mirrors the…
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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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Happy Birthday, Dante Gabriel Rossetti!

Today marks the anniversary of Rossetti’s birth in 1828.  A founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Rossetti’s works capture his unique view of beauty.  His paintings of women during the latter stage of his life are often criticized for their unusual physical attributions: elongated necks, cupid bow lips, and  languid gazes.  And, of course, all…
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“A study of varied greens”

“The girl is in a sort of passionate reverie, and is drawing her hand listlessly along the strings of a violin which hangs against the wall, while she holds the bow with the other hands, as if arrested by the thought of the moment, when she was about to play.  In color, I shall make…
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Celebrating Shakespeare

Happy Birthday to William Shakespeare, born on this day in 1564.  Today is also the anniversary of the Bard’s death.  Dare I say it?  Dying on your birthday is a dramatically Shakespearean thing to do. When a young group of artists founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 they drew up a list of ‘Immortals’, made…
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In a World of Her Own

I’ve seen  Pre-Raphaelite paintings  of women  dismissed as ‘languid’ or ‘vapid’ and many critics view them as sensual images created solely for the male gaze. That’s a fair argument, of course, but I feel it’s a point of view that barely scratches the surface. To me, Pre-Raphaelite women are not shallow objects of beauty, but…
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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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Aesthetic Vampirism

Literature is filled with fictional portraits. Visual art and the written word can intertwine in glorious ways. Dorian Gray’s mysteriously aging painting springs to mind and both the image of Lady Audley in Lady Audley’s Secret and descriptions of art in The Woman in White are excellent examples of Pre-Raphaelite principles used within a novel….
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Goblin Market

“We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits:” Written in 1859 by  Christina Rossetti (sister to Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Goblin Market is a narrative poem of two sisters who encounter temptation. It is a complex poem–almost too complex to delve into for a blog post simply because it is hard…
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A Primordial Venus

I’ve written about Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Astarte Syriaca (1877) more than once on this blog, saying in Those Rossetti Lips:  She could totally crush you.  It’s a powerful painting, one of my favorites. I realize that it may not be to everyone’s taste. Especially if you are not already a Rossetti fan, it could come…
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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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