“Go to nature in all singleness of heart”

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 … Read more

Bothered by Art Censorship? #MeToo

The Manchester Art Gallery announced this week that it has removed from exhibition the painting Hylas and the Nymphs by J.W. Waterhouse, and also the post cards of it in its gift shop. The gallery’s stated goal is to “challenge this Victorian fantasy” of “the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme … Read more

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 … Read more

Dante Gabriel 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 … Read more

Art is a Mirror

Meteyard, Lady of Shalott

 When I was fifteen years old, my father taught me how to drive. I was eager, yet scared, and Dad wanted to give me ample opportunity to practice, so we drove together often. He’d pick a destination and I would drive while he critiqued and instructed me. Luckily, he is both an extremely patient man and … Read more

The Gilded Cage

Evelyn De Morgan painted The Gilded Cage in 1919.  This was her last work before her death and we can read a wealth of meaning into it.  Let’s look at the husband first: his appearance indicates that he is much older than his wife. He is finely clothed, right down to his jewelry. Gold with … Read more

Freddie Mercury and the madness of Richard Dadd

Richard Dadd is a Victorian artist that both shocks and fascinates me.  He demonstrated a great talent for drawing early in life and entered the Royal Academy at age twenty. He founded The Clique with fellow artists Augustus Egg, Alfred Elmore, William Powell Frith, Henry Nelson O’Neil, John Phillip and Edward Matthew Ward. Which means that … Read more

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 … 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 North-West Passage

In The North-West Passage, Millais used a retired sailor named Captain Trelawny for the old mariner.  Trelawny was described affectionately as a “jolly old pirate” and had a colorful past to prove it. The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, written by the artist’s son, mentions briefly that Trelawny was once abducted by … Read more

Miss Beatrice Buckstone

Beatrice Buckstone posed for three of Millais’ works.   She was the granddaughter of actor/comedian John Baldwin Buckstone.  Finding Shakespeare has an interesting post showing Buckstone’s guestbook signature on his visit to the Bard’s birthplace, along with biographical information about the actor.  Millais’ son wrote about her in The Life and Letters of Sir John … Read more

Embrace the Night

The day has its own bright beauty. Morning may bring the possibility of a new beginning, but at night, everything slows down and the world takes on a different mood.  Night wears a deeper hue, things become varying shades of blues and purples.  It’s a slower form of beauty.  Introspective and melancholy. Is it any wonder … Read more

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ painting King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid is based on the story of an African King who had never felt any attraction towards women until he spotted a beggar woman. In this tale of love at first sight, King Cophetua declares that despite her low social standing, she will be his queen. … Read more

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 … Read more

‘Astrologia’ and other examples of crystal balls

According to Georgiana Burne-Jones’ memorials of her husband, the model for Astrologia was Miss Augusta Jones.  I love the reflection seen on the crystal ball; if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that mirrored images are favorite details of mine. (Seeking out mirrors, Viola, Circe, The Impossible Mirror of Lady Lilith, … Read more

Who is The Blessed Damozel?

The Poem:  Drawing inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel explores the theme of lovers separated by death. Like Poe’s Lenore, the damozel (an archaic form of damsel) has died and Rossetti introduces her to us as she looks down upon her lover from heaven. Rossetti later told Hall … Read more

Effie Millais describes ‘Apple Blossoms’

Apple Blossoms captures a relaxing outing on a spring day.  Liverpool Museums points out that there are many different ways to interpret this painting, especially with the odd appearance of a scythe on the right hand side of the picture. On the face of it, this is a picture about youth and beauty, but it has … Read more

Regina Cordium (Queen of Hearts)

In 1859, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Bocca Baciata and it was a radical change for him in style. Afterwards, his work gravitated towards images of a single female, quite often depicted from the bust up and surrounded by flowers, jewelry, and other symbolic objects. Why the change? In the late 1850’s Rossetti had definitely matured … Read more

Portrait of Margaret Burne-Jones

Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ portrait of his daughter Margaret is another example of  mirror paintings that I adore. It’s not the mirror itself that I love; I am captivated by paintings whose mirrors that allow us a view of an opposite side of the room. Previous ‘mirror’ posts include Seeking out mirrors, Circe offering the cup … Read more

Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus

There are many artistic representations of Circe.  Previous posts on this blog include Circe Invidiosa and The Wine of Circe.  Kirsty Stonell Walker explores Circe more deeply in her post Snowdrops, Swine and Seductive Sorceresses. I’ve been looking at mirrors in Pre-Raphaelite art in my previous posts.  In Il Dolce Far Niente and Viola, the … Read more