Thursday, September 26, 2013

PRB - Part 2

Last week I introduced you to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the “face” of the Pre-Raphaelites, the very first supermodel, Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Siddal. 

John Ruskin was a staunch supporter of Siddal.  He was a well known British art critic and social thinker, also remembered as an author, poet and artist. His essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  The Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Ruskin's theories. As a result, the critic wrote letters to The Times defending their work, which led to their art finally being accepted in Victorian art circles.

In 1855 Ruskin became Lizzie Siddal’s financial supporter as she struggled to be recognized as an artist and poet. Ruskin paid £150 per year in exchange for all drawings and paintings that she produced. Siddal produced many sketches but only a single painting. Her sketches are laid out in a fashion similar to Pre-Raphaelite compositions and tend to illustrate Arthurian legend and other idealized medieval themes.  During this period Siddal also began to write poetry, often with dark themes about lost love or the impossibility of true love.

Siddal suffered from a ‘mysterious illness’, which is now believed to have been an addiction to laudanum.  It was to prove to be her downfall.

Laudanum was a mixture of opium and alcohol.  It was not dispensed by prescription, and was widely accepted as a ‘cure all’, similar to how aspirin is viewed today.  One could purchase laudanum from a barber, a grocer, or at market stalls.  It was touted to address symptoms of alcoholism, bedwetting, coughs and colds, insanity, morning sickness, nervous tension, muscle fatigue, toothache and was sold to mothers to soothe their babies.  One can see where it would be easy to become addicted to laudanum. 

As an aside, there were many who were dependent on “tincture of opium” – such notables as Walter Scott, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September Ornament SAL

Here's my September Christmas ornament!  It was fun - can hardly wait to see the cording and how it finishes ;)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - Part 1

I gave you an insight into redheads and the ordeals they faced over the centuries last week. Today I'll introduce you to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the “face” of the Pre-Raphaelites, the very first supermodel, Elizabeth Siddal.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (known as “PRB”) was founded in London in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poets, artists and critics.
They named themselves “Pre-Raphaelite” because they believed the classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art.

The fact Elizabeth Siddal (known as “Lizzie”) achieved such prominence was a remarkable feat given just about everything about her went against the standards of what was popular in Victorian times.  She had flowing, wavy locks of red hair, was tall and slender with large eyes.  In 1849, when she was 20 years old, Lizzie worked as a milliner in London. She made a meager salary of 24 pounds a year but soon discovered she could make more than double as a model for artists.  Being a model during this era was not viewed as socially acceptable.  No woman with morals would consider such a profession.

Lizzie was discovered by Walter Deverell in 1849 and, through him, was introduced to the PRB.  While posing for Millais' Ophelia (1852), Siddal had floated in a bathtub full of water to model the drowning Ophelia. 

Millais painted daily into the winter with Siddal modeling. He put lamps under the tub to warm the water. On one occasion the lamps went out and the water slowly became icy cold. Millais was absorbed by his painting and did not notice the lamps were no longer working. Siddal, however, did not complain and eventually became very sick with a severe cold or pneumonia.

From 1853 on, Lizzie was the primary model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  After he met her he began to paint her to the exclusion of almost all other models and he insisted she stop modeling for the other Pre-Raphaelites.  Lizzie was interested in art and showed promise as an artist and poet in her own right.  After meeting Rossetti, she became his student and struggled to be recognized as an artist in a world dominated by men.   

More next time - Happy stitching!  Cheers!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Redheads - OH MY!

My daughter, Sarah, has been blessed with gorgeous red hair and she comes by it rightly.  My grandfather’s nickname was “Red”; when I was young,  my hair was as red as Sarah’s.  (Now it's more gray then red - HA! ).  I have pictures of the two of us when she was small and our hair color was exactly the same.  I remember detesting my red hair as I was growing up.  I wanted to be blonde – you know, “Blondes have more fun!”  My daughter also wished she had different hair until she was in her 20s.  Now she loves it.

A portrait of Sarah I painted on an 8x10 porcelain tile

Throughout history, being a redhead was not necessarily a healthy thing to be.  Redheads have been subjected to discrimination and fearful prejudice, being viewed as untrustworthy, mischievous, temperamental, and lustful. In ancient Egypt, red hair was seen as so unlucky, red-haired girls were burned alive. According to Greek myths, redheads turn into vampires when they die.

In medieval Europe, the infamous witch-hunting manual, Malleus Maleficarum, instructed that red hair and green eyes were marks of a witch, as were freckles (which most redheads are prone to have). This belief might have stemmed from the general consensus that redheads were evil, wanton, and hot-tempered. In the Bible, Mary Magdalene and Judas Iscariot are often portrayed as redheads, as was Lilith, Adam’s first wife who insisted on sexual equality. Even Jonathan Swift, in his 1726 classic Gulliver’s Travels, characterized redheads as being wanton and promiscuous.

Elizabeth Siddall was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s model in the 1850s until her death in 1862.  Her image is recognized worldwide as the model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  She had glorious red hair which was not considered socially acceptable in the Victorian era.

Beata Beatrix by Rossetti

Over the years, I’ve studied the paintings of Master Artists who have lived through the centuries.  Through this study, their paintings take on more life and meaning as I learn more about their lives and come to understand their trials and tribulations.  

I'll share what I've learned about Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites soon.  It's absolutely FASCINATING!!

What does this have to do with cross stitch and needlework?  Stay tuned ;)

Happy stitching -

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another Finished Piece

I've been a little remiss in blogging the past few weeks.  My mother has been in ICU and the hospital, but now is back at the extended care facility.  She continues to be an inspiration to me.  Her gentle spirit, her determination to get better and her never ending faith continue to humble me.

I had started this project weeks ago and finally have finished and framed the piece.  It reminds me, so much, of my mother.  She has always taken care of others - physically (because she was a wonderful, dedicated nurse), emotionally (because she is a compassionate woman) and spiritually (she always has forgiven those who have hurt her).

It says "We all have enough strength to endure the troubles of others."

Happy stitching - Cheers!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And the Winner is........


Please send me your mailing address and I'll pop the dish in the mail to you.

Congratulations and enjoy!

Everyone - keep you eyes peeled for the next give away. ;0)