What shapes our perception of Elizabeth Siddal?

 For those of us who admire Pre-Raphaelite art, Elizabeth Siddal is a familiar face.  Her story is repeated often and frequently embellished.  When beginning to research the life of Elizabeth Siddal, readers will invariably encounter this description of her written by poet William Allingham in his diary: “Short, sad, and strange her life; it must…
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Rossetti’s Models

Like his Pre-Raphaelite brethren, Dante Gabriel Rossetti used live models in his works.  Throughout the course of his career, the same faces grace his canvasses, ranging from family members to lovers.  Occasionally, models Elizabeth Siddal and Alexa Wilding are confused for each other. Other models may be misidentified completely. so this post is intended to…
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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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Sighting: Pre-Raphaelite art in Law and Order: SVU

New addition to the Unexpected Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page. Season 17, episode 1 of Law and Order: SVU included Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Belcolore and Lady Lilith.  It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the art in the killer’s home reflects his obsession with red hair.  

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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Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

In the early years of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, artist Walter Deverell discovered Elizabeth Siddal working in a millinery shop.  After modeling for his painting Twelfth Night, Siddal posed for several Pre-Raphaelite painters, including William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.  It was the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was captivated by her. He drew and…
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Supernatural

Pre-Raphaelites sought fidelity to nature in their works, recreating the natural world with painstaking attention to detail. They did not, however, limit themselves to realistic subjects.  Their paintings often placed supernatural or fantasy subjects from mythology and literature into realistic settings. Such depictions with their vivid hues and photographic realism resulted in works that were…
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A #WombatFriday for Poe

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 Edgar Allan Poe died October 7th in 1849, quite soon after the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed.  Poe was a huge inspiration for poet…
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Hide Me Among the Graves

Tim Powers doesn’t write about your run-of-the-mill vampires.  His undead may feed upon you, but in return they will inspire words and poetry that you could never have written before.  I found Powers’ mythology to be a refreshing twist.  In Hide Me Among the Graves, the artistic Rossetti family deals with the vampiric curse of…
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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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Proserpine and Blogging About Art

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Proserpine is an arresting and visually striking work.  Blogging about it once has never been enough; it resurfaces in my posts again and again. The myth of Proserpine/Persephone is a story that resonates with me on multiple levels, so I think that in writing about it I am attempting to explore…
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Book review: Ophelia’s Muse

The romance of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal lends itself well to fiction. It’s a story that has it all: beauty, pathos, and the synergy of artistic creation that flowed between them. Author Rita Cameron’s new book Ophelia’s Muse tells the story of Elizabeth Siddal’s discovery by the Pre-Raphaelite circle and how it led…
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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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Four grey walls, and four grey towers

After posting about Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Gilded Cage, I began to think about other paintings that depict women who are trapped and imprisoned in some way, paintings that prompt me to ponder limitations and boundaries. The Lady of Shalott is perhaps the most obvious example that comes to mind.  Based upon the poem…
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La Ghirlandata

La  Ghirlandata was painted at Kelmscott Manor after a period of great difficulty for Rossetti — he had attempted suicide earlier that year. Despite his paranoia and mental troubles, his work during this period is vibrant and beautiful.  This painting,in particular, is appealing to me with its stunning contrast of glorious red hair and verdant…
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Unconventional Beauty

Author Henry James had seen Rossetti’s paintings of Jane Morris during a visit to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s studios.  Upon seeing Jane in person, he had this to write: “A figure cut out of a missal – out of one of Rossetti’s or Hunt’s pictures – to say this gives but a faint idea of her,…
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The Unrequited Love of Dante and Beatrice

In reality, Dante loved Beatrice from a distance and they had little to no contact with one another. The  real Beatrice Portinari probably never had any idea of the depth of his passion for her.  Yet she was to become one of literature’s most famous figures. Dante Alighieri first saw and fell in love with Beatrice…
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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. When Millais first exhibited this painting…
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Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death… —Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28) I’ve just read Variety’s review of the new adaptation of the Scottish play. I can…
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Healing, resting

“There is nothing stable in the world; uproar’s your only music.”-John Keats Several months ago I was diagnosed with a dermoid tumor on my ovary. If you aren’t squeamish, google dermoid. It’s a real monster.  However, I am extremely grateful for mine. It saved my life. During exams and tests leading up to surgery, my…
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