Thursday, February 11, 2010
Today we lost a great artist and inspiration. The blogging community has done a beautiful job celebrating McQueen's work and lamenting his early departure so I thought to share with you another artist who passed away on this date, Elizabeth Siddal. Her story was one that I read over and over again as a young one with my nose stuck in my mum's art history textbooks. The following is taken from LizzieSiddal.com:
Elizabeth Siddal (July 25, 1829 - February 11, 1862)
While working in a millinery shop, Lizzie was discovered by the artist Walter Deverell who painted her as Viola in his depiction of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Lizzie went on to model for other Pre-Raphaelite artists and is most commonly recognized as Ophelia in the painting by John Everett Millais. But it was the charismatic Dante Gabriel Rossetti who not only drew and painted her obsessively, but encouraged Lizzie in her own artwork and poetry. Their relationship was intense and rocky, with an engagement that lasted a decade. Sadly, their marriage was short. The couple suffered a stillborn child and Lizzie was seriously addicted to Laudanum. She died in 1862 due to an overdose. The rest of Lizzie’s tale is eerily famous for its gothic Victorian morbidity: Rossetti, in his grief, buried his only manuscript of his poems with Lizzie. The poems, nestled in her coffin amidst her famous red hair, haunted him. Seven years later, he had her coffin exhumed in order to retrieve the poems for publication. The story was spread that Lizzie was still in beautiful, pristine condition and that her flaming hair had continued to grow after death, filling the coffin. This, of course, is a biological impossibility. Cellular growth does not occur after death, but the tale has added to Lizzie’s legend and continues to capture the interest of Pre-Raphaelite and Lizzie Siddal enthusiasts.
one of her drawings, "The Lady of Shalott" (another favourite that needs its own post)
Wombat enthusiast, poet, painter and, well, babe Rossetti. (perhaps another reason i was so bewitched by her story? loved by a man with long locks?)
What of her glass without her? The blank grey
There where the pool is blind of the moon's face.
Her dress without her? The tossed empty space
Of cloud-rack whence the moon has passed away.
Her paths without her? Day's appointed sway
Usurped by desolate night. Her pillowed place
Without her? Tears, ah me! For love's good grace,
And cold forgetfulness of night or day.
What of the heart without her? Nay, poor heart,
Of thee what word remains ere speech be still?
A wayfarer by barren ways and chill,
Steep ways and weary, without her thou art,
Where the long cloud, the long wood's counterpart,
Sheds doubled up darkness up the labouring hill.
-- From Without Her