On Aging

Jane Morris in The Hour Glass by Evelyn De Morgan

Jane Morris was swept into the Pre-Raphaelite world at age eighteen.  She was La Belle Iseult to William Morris, who declared “I cannot paint you; but I love you”. Then she was Pandora, Mnemosyne, Astarte Syriaca and other assorted goddesses to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Years later, after the Pre-Raphaelite bloom had faded from her cheeks, we see Jane on canvas again in Evelyn … Read more

How to be beautiful

There have been many times in my life when I’ve seen models or actresses and compared my own looks to them and realized I don’t measure up. I will never measure up. Yet it’s important to realize that what I don’t measure up to is a myth. That idea of perfection is not a harmless … Read more

The Unique Beauty of Rossetti

I often see criticism of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work that describes his paintings of women as masculine. Some people see Rossetti’s frequent depictions of elongated necks and broad shoulders and are instantly dismissive. This is not a conventional beauty, they think, this is not a goddess. The fact that Rossetti’s paintings of women fall outside … Read more

Katabasis

After my recent post on Dante’s Divine Comedy, I’ve been thinking about metaphorical descents into the Underworld.  The rather beautiful Greek word for descent is katabasis, usually used to describe a hero’s journey into the underworld on a quest of some sort.  It’s a journey seen in not only a  variety of myths, but multiple … Read more

What is the “Pre-Raphaelite Woman”?

florence and the machine

Women are central figures in Pre-Raphaelite art, and this has given rise to the concept of a “Pre-Raphaelite Woman.” I frequently see the term in the media, usually describing an actress or singer with long curly hair. Florence Welch is often described as Pre-Raphaelite, a look she has embraced. But was there a unified ideal? If we look … Read more

Lady of Shalott: Our Modern Version of the Curse

Doomed to view life through reflections, her life is a mere shadow with no experiences of her own. Inspired by Tennyson’s poem, the Pre-Raphaelites painted her repeatedly. “The mirror crack’d from side to side;“The curse is come upon me,” criedThe Lady of Shalott.“ She is separate from the world, living in isolation as she creates … Read more