Thursday, February 11, 2010


NMH 18/2007

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

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)

Dante locks
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


  1. All of these pictures that you've posted have really inspired me to start drawing, I have kind of been lacking the motivation recently, but I think these images may have reignited the flame :)

  2. beautiful post. makes you that kind of sickingly nostalgic...

    and a yes for rosetti.

  3. You have quite the inspiring blog dear.

  4. You are just great, thanks for sharing something new and inspiring!

  5. what a wonderful illustrator
    so sad about McQueen...its just awful to think that people are suffering in their heads, and cant reach out to anyone. suicide is never the answer

  6. This is so lovely! You always post the most inspiring things

  7. oh wow, thank you for sharing this. i find this kind of tumultuous, crazyinlove, passions-for-the-ages history fascinating.

  8. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a story about a woman who died young and after her death her red hair grew, overflowing her coffin and her corpse never deteriorated.
    maybe he had his inspiration here
    the novella is called Of Love and Other Demons.

  9. That portrait of Rossetti is perhaps the main reason (okay, the only reason) I decided to do research on his work for my first major grad school paper.

    Oh, charmed me and then left me sleepless for many nights.

    Lizzie was the very definition of beautiful. I'll choose to believe her hair kept growing too.

  10. My friend Woody told me about you blog, and I think you are the prettiest thing (I think you must have heard a thousand times that you look like Anna Karina..) !
    And now I see my dear Lizzie...
    She's a great part in my life.


Hello Friends! I do my best to respond to all of your thoughtful comments on your blogs, I apologize in advance if this is not always done in the most timely manner! Thank you for reading!

Related Posts with Thumbnails