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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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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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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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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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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Dim Phantoms

Elizabeth Siddal, drawb by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

On this day in 1862, Elizabeth Siddal died.  In many accounts of her, you will see her death described as suicide.  Whether intentional or not, she lost her life due to an overdose of Laudanum.   You can read a transcript of the inquest here. The hills grow darker to my sight And thoughts begin…
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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…
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What is the “Pre-Raphaelite Woman”?

Women are central figures in Pre-Raphaelite art and this has given us the concept of a “Pre-Raphaelite Woman”. I frequently see the term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ in occasional news articles, usually describing an actress or singer with long curly hair.  Florence Welch is often described as Pre-Raphaelite and it’s definitely a look she has embraced. But was there…
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Tennyson’s ‘Lady Clare’

“He does not love me for my birth, Nor for my lands so broad and fair; He loves me for my own true worth, And that is well,” said Lady Clare. Published in 1842, Lady Clare is a romantic ballad by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.  Exploring issues of class, marriage and honesty, Lady Clare is the…
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MUSE: A new poetry collection by Dawn Marie Kresan

Elizabeth Siddal still continues to inspire. Dawn Marie Kresan explores multiple aspects of Siddal’s life and legacy in a newly-published poetry collection, Muse. I was unprepared for the depth of emotion Kresan’s work creates. Her expertly crafted poems touch upon Lizzie’s discovery and role as muse to the Pre-Raphaelites.  Several poems include moments of Lizzie’s…
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Lizzie Siddal: A New Play by Jeremy Green

Copperhead Productions and Peter Huntley Productions present THE WORLD PREMIERE OF LIZZIE SIDDAL A NEW PLAY BY JEREMY GREEN AT THE ARCOLA THEATRE from Wednesday 20 November – Saturday 21 December 2013 The Victorian art world. ‘To yearn for something – doesn’t that make life more intense?’ Lizzie Siddal, a new play about the woman…
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Those Rossetti Lips

One of my favorite details in Rossetti’s Proserpine is that her lips are painted almost the exact shade of the pomegranate.  Those luscious, cupid’s bow lips and the elongated neck are indicative of Rossetti’s later style.  It was a time in his life when he was plagued with mental health troubles and personal drama, yet…
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Rossetti Studies

Often I find that I prefer an artist’s studies to the completed work.  Perhaps it is that they are raw beginnings, a hint of what is to come.  Although usually I feel that a certain emotional quality is captured in the face of the model and somehow lost in translation when recreated in oils. Head…
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Ophelia update at LizzieSiddal.com

I’ve just updated the Ophelia page at LizzieSiddal.com.  I’ve transcribed text relating to Ophelia from The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais.  I have more updates planned over the weekend, but for now, Ophelia has happily dominated my evening.

A discussion of Pre-Raphaelite women on BBC Radio 4

Women’s Hour visits the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the Tate to discuss the female Pre-Raphaelite artists.  I am pleased with the the attention paid to Elizabeth Siddal. In particular, her illustration of The Lady of Shalott is given a nice bit of attention.  They also talk about Rosa Brett, Jane Burden Morris and May Morris.  You can…
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Surfacing and the death of Elizabeth Siddal

I am surfacing.  I apologize for my silence and lack of posting.  For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been coming to terms with the fact that my husband is going to continue to be hospitalized at least until mid-March with osteomyelitis, a bone infection.  So, I’ve been adapting to life with three children while…
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