It’s Earth Day!

In Modern Painters, John Ruskin urged artists to “go to nature in all singleness of heart… rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth.” The Pre-Raphaelites and their followers took this advice to heart. In Millais’ Ophelia, for example, we can see…
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Marigolds, Sacred Flowers for the Dead

Our Halloween revelry is over and now we honor our ancestors with the Day of the Dead.  Throughout Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.,  this is Dia de los Muertos, a special event that focuses on togetherness of family and friends and honoring those who have passed on.  It is a beautiful way to honor the…
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Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks

An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature.  Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking.  Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative,  the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of…
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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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Find Something Beautiful

Since it is now the beginning of Summer, Sweet Summer by John William Waterhouse seems a fitting painting to contemplate.  Reclining in the grass, a beautiful woman relaxes next to a cool fountain on what is a presumably hot summer day. Her fan lies unused next to her while her hand lightly holds a rose….
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Celebrating Earth Day

In Modern Painters, John Ruskin urged artists to “go to nature in all singleness of heart… rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth.” The Pre-Raphaelites and their followers took this advice to heart. In Millais’ Ophelia, for example, we can see…
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The Significance of Marigolds

Marigolds were the first flowers I planted as a child. I have a distinct memory of my mother buying them and preparing the flower bed, showing me how to use the spade and how to space the flowers so that they weren’t either too close to each other or too far apart.  Isn’t it funny…
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Poppies: Sleep, Death, Remembrance

The Tower of London is marking the centenary of World War I with a breathtaking art installation called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by artist Paul Cummins.  The installation will include total of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each flower representing a British military fatality from WWI.   The tradition of using poppies for remembrance of those…
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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 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 is…
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Love’s Shadow

Although Frederick Sandys was not a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he is among those artists often described as Pre-Raphaelite because of their similarity in style. Sandys lived with Dante Gabriel Rossetti for a time in Rossetti’s home in Cheyne Walk. In another post (Helen of Troy) I mentioned that Rossetti accused Sandys of plagiarism. The model for Love’s…
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Ophelia and the Pre-Raphaelites

Ophelia is a captivating character, one that inspired many of the Pre-Raphaelites and other Victorian artists. For those unfamiliar with Ophelia, she is Hamlet’s innocent  young love interest in one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays (Hamlet). Hamlet loved Ophelia – but after his meeting with the ghost of his father (Act I) he feels compelled…
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Flora Symbolica:

Flora Symbolica: Flowers in Pre-Raphaelite Art: Few artistic movements capture classic notions of beauty as romantically as the Pre-Raphaelites—a group of nineteenth-century painters and poets who aimed to revive the purer art of the late medieval period. Brilliantly colored and carefully composed, pre-Raphaelite paintings are revered for their idealistic portrayal of women, their emphasis on…
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Flora Symbolica Lecture at the Delaware Art Museum

Flora Symbolica: The Secret Language of Pre-Raphaelite Painting* Saturday, May 17, 2008 2:00 p.m. | Click here to register. $10 Members/$15 Non-Members/$5 Students Lecture: During the Victorian age, flowers spoke a secret language to the initiated. The Pre-Raphaelites used this floral code to tell stories and myths, encode personal messages, and celebrate the beauty of…
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Who wants to plant a Pre-Raphaelite garden?

My creative twelve year old daughter decided that she wants to plant a “fairy garden”. She recently purchased the collected works of Cicely Mary Barker (June 28, 1895 – February 16, 1973). Most people are familiar with Barker’s Flower Fairies, but in case you are not here is a brief bio with examples of her…
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Isabella and the Pot of Basil

I had seen this painting several times in books and online, but when I saw it in person I was blown away. The painting is quite large, measuring 73.5 x 45.5 inches. Due to its size, the painting draws you in, completely dominating the room and immersing you in every detail. The painting illustrates a…
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