BEAUTY TREND: Lizzie Siddal and other Pre-Raphaelite Muses

For Dante Gabriel Rossetti of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, art and poetry were entwined with his personal life and relationships to such a degree it was all one. His devotion to female beauty in his poetry and painting mirrored his obsession to a vision of ideal feminine beauty in his personal life. That ideal meant long lustrous hair, an elongated sculptural looking neck, heavy eyelids, sensuous pouty lips and skin with a luminous fair complexion.

 

In 1850 Rossetti met Elizabeth Siddal who was to become an important artist’s model for the brotherhood and in 1860 she became Rossetti’s wife. Her brother-in-law described her as “a most beautiful creature ... tall, finely-formed with a lofty neck and regular yet somewhat uncommon features, greenish-blue unsparkling eyes, large perfect eyelids, brilliant complexion and a lavish heavy wealth of coppery golden hair.”
When Lizzie died in 1862, Rossetti’s lover Fannie Cornforth moved in with the artist as his housekeeper and frequent model. Like Lizzie Siddal, she had flowing red hair but was less delicate and more voluptuous. Her image came to symbolize earthly beauty and physical pleasure or fantasy. Another muse and lover was William Morris’s wife Jane Burden who had dark raven hair and a pale somber expression. Whereas Rossetti felt that Lizzie had spiritual beauty and Fanny was a physical beauty, Jane was a blending of the two.
His other favorite model was Alexa Wilding, a dressmaker. His assistant, Henry Dunn described Wilding as having “a lovely face, beautifully moulded in every feature, full of quiescent, soft, mystical repose that suited some of his conceptions admirably… He was struck with her beautiful face and golden, auburn hair. Wilding’s features are easy to spot in Rossetti’s art; the red hair, long neck, perfect Cupid’s bow lips, and somewhat softer eyes compared to Lizzie Siddal’s famed heavy-lidded ones.



Lizzie Siddal



Lizzie Siddal



Fanny Cornforth

 


Fanny Cornforth

 


Jane Burden Morris

 


Jane Burden Morris

 


Alexa Wilding



Alexa Wilding



A “Pre-Raphaelite” Palette using Sophicolor

A rich mix of warm colors, flame, gold, yellow together with moss, emerald offset by navy and black. 

 

Last year American Vogue published an editorial inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites. Actress Saoirse Ronan starred in The Cult of Beauty , photographed by Steven Meisel and styled by the incomparable Grace Coddington. Blogger, Kate Challis of Urban Kaleidoscope, cleverly matched the photographs to the paintings that inspired them.


 

 

 

 

 

There has also been a focus recently on the Pre-Raphaelite ideals of beauty, including wild red hair a la Lizzie Siddal. Victor & Rolf showed “Pre-Raphaelite” hair for Spring 2013. Other great Pre-Raphaelite muses include Lily Cole, Florence Welch and Grace Coddington.

 


Victor & Rolf Spring 13

 


Florence Welch

 


Grace Coddington



Lily Cole

 

Thursday, November 29, 2012 ยท Categories: Art and Photography, Trend Analysis, Color , Beauty and Health, Fashion
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