Evelyn De Morgan and Botticelli

Kirsty Stonell Walker made an excellent point in Endless Digressions on Evelyn De Morgan:  she’s such a fascinating artist that it feels impossible to keep a post about her short.  Her work is large, vivid in color, and often depicts a spiritual theme or an allegory.  And if there’s anything I love, it’s an allegorical…
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The Mirror of Venus

Burne-Jones’ painting The Mirror of Venus is a celebration of female beauty.  Ten women, often identified as Venus and her attendants, gather around their own watery reflections.  The landscape is no rival for their beauty — it’s a bleak land that was described by author Christopher Wood as ‘strangely lunar’. The painting doesn’t offer us…
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Eos

Eos is goddess of the dawn; she brings forth hope of the new day.  She opens the gates of Heaven for the sun to rise, allowing her brother Helios (the sun god) to begin his daily journey across the sky.  In the Homeric hymns, she is depicted as accompanying Helios. She is also the mother…
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Demeter and Persephone

In De Morgan’s painting,  we see Demeter as she mourns the loss of her daughter.  Stricken with grief,  she clasps her head–surrounded by shafts of wheat,  denoting Demeter’s role as goddess of the harvest. The tale of Demeter and Persephone personifies the depth of a mother’s love.  It is a myth about the death and…
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Damsel, Fallen Woman, Goddess

Pre-Raphaelite art includes many beautiful yet different types of women. On one end of the spectrum, we have damsels in distress that need to be rescued. Or fallen women in need of forgiveness for having fallen (as if they fell by themselves). On the other end, we have goddesses and mythological women who need no…
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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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Circe Invidiosa

Waterhouse is an adept at blending feminine beauty and mystery.  Here he depicts the goddess Circe amidst shades of greens and blues, creating a world that draws us in and mesmerizes.   If you really look at this painting, you can feel yourself transported into Circe’s world:  you can hear the water echoing through a secluded grotto. …
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Magic in Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist Art

Magic and witchcraft can be depicted as ugly and dark in art as in William Blake’s Hecate, but Pre-Raphaelite artists embrace its beauty and mysticism. Look at her skirt. Her magical symbols, I think, are Celtic in origin. If anyone has any info on them, please post a comment.

The Tale of Pygmalion

The tale of Pygmalion dates back to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The paintings featured here are the second series painted by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Pygmalion is a sculptor who is disgusted by the behavior of local women, who are frivolous, shallow, and immoral. His decision to live a life of celibacy instead of choosing one of…
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Astarte Syriaca

Astarte Syriaca (painting and poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti) Mystery: lo! betwixt the sun and moon Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen Ere Aphrodite was. In silver sheen Her twofold girdle clasps the infinite boon Of bliss whereof the heaven and earth commune: And from her neck’s inclining flower-stem lean Love-freighted lips and absolute eyes…
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Proserpine

Just as Rossetti did with Elizabeth Siddal, he painted Jane Morris obsessively. It may seem fitting that he posed Jane in the classic myth of Proserpine in this painting, which can be considered one of his most recognizable works. Proserpine was the daughter of the goddess Ceres (personally, I prefer the Greek version, in which…
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