Saturday 18 January 2020

Christina Georgina Rossetti in a Tantrum (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
Has there ever been such a lethargic January! (There probably has!) Last Friday evening, I nipped out   for a loaf of bread, then on a whim - the Co-op is opposite the Tube station - thought I'd jump on a train and catch the last hour of late-opening at the National Portrait Gallery. What an inspired idea, though I'm not wild about the noisy music there on Friday nights. 
Loved this sketch of Christina Rossetti in a paddy ... quite a change from the usual Pre-Raphaelite stunners. (There's still time to catch Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, if you're quick.)

And after she'd calmed down ...

This is what Christina wrote about her brother Dante Gabriel's muse Lizzie Siddal, after Lizzie's death from post-natal depression and an opiate overdose.

One face looks out from all his canvases.
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens ...

He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him ...

Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

It was sad to see a lock of Lizzie's dark, auburn hair, rather darker than in this portrait: 

The Awakening Conscience (William Holman Hunt)

Annie Miller met Holman Hunt when she was a 15 year-old barmaid and he paid for her to be educated in the manners of a lady, worthy of being his wife. He ended their engagement on the grounds of her frivolity - and offered her assisted emigration to keep her from going astray. (You're so pretty, you will lead men into temptation - so get thee to the colonies - they used similar arguments to imprison girls in the Magdalene laundries!)
But Annie carried on modelling and lived to be 90. 

 The Blue Bower, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Lazy laughing languid Jenny, Fond of a kiss and fond of a guinea ... 
wrote Rossetti, inspired by Fanny Cornforth's harvest-yellow hair. She also posed for this and this: one critic called her a 'nasty, common-looking creature.' When she put on weight, Rossetti called her 'my dear elephant' (but he was her 'old rhinoceros.' )

I was very taken by this photograph of a delightfully pretty Angela Thirkell in 1910, wearing a dress inspired by the one her grandmother Georgiana Burne-Jones wore here.  That must have been some dressing-up box!