When I first discovered Pre-Raphaelite art, I was a seventeen year old girl with a passion for stories. I was never a feel-good, only-happy-endings kind of girl. I like a story with teeth and a hint of melancholy, stories with layers to unfold and explore. Pre-Raphaelite art is filled with such tales. Twenty-five years later, … Read more

That quivering expression

“Exquisite in every way; lovely in colour, most subtle the quivering expression of the lips, and sweetness of the tender face, shaken like a leaf by winds upon its dew, and hesitating back into peace.”–John Ruskin on Arthur Hughes’ painting April Love. *** In several of Hughes’ works, it is the evocative shades he uses … Read more

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 … Read more

Lady of Shalott: The Imprisoned Artist

The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse

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 … Read more

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. “But where was the mouse to … Read more

The lure of water-women

In Rossetti’s 1853 drawing Boatmen and Siren, one of the boatmen is captivated by the siren, but is saved from certain death by his companion.  The accompanying inscription was written by Jacopo da Lentino, a Italian poet of the Rennaissance era whose work was translated by Rossetti in The Early Italian Poets: I am broken, … Read more

Alone and palely loitering: La Belle Dame sans Merci

La Belle Dame sans Merci translated from the French means “the beautiful lady without pity” or “the beautiful lady without mercy”.  It is possible that the poem is based on the ballad of ‘True Thomas’, also known as ‘Thomas the Rhymer’, which tells how a man was enchanted by the queen of Elfland and lured … Read more

True Painters of Light

William Holman Hunt painted The Light of The World in 1853, not too long after the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848.  He used model Elizabeth Siddal to paint Christ’s hair; Christina Rossetti was the model for the head.  It was at this point that we see that Siddal was no ordinary model, for … Read more

April Love

April Love ,  Arthur Hughes  (1855). William Morris purchased this painting after it was exhibited, narrowly beating John Ruskin who also desired it. The artist exhibited April Love along with these lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Miller’s Daughter: Eyes with idle tears are wet. Idle habit links us yet. What is love? for we forget: … Read more