Elizabeth Siddal and the Pre-Raphaelites,  william michael rossetti

William Micheal Rossetti on Elizabeth Siddal

Cordium;
1862, St. George and the Princess Sabra ;
1863, Beata Beatrix.

Then, Lizzie’s art:

As to Miss Siddal’s own designs, I may mention, besides those already specified, Jephthah’s Daughter, The Deposition from the Cross, The Maries at the Sepulchre, The Madonna and Child with an Angel, Macbeth taking the Dagger from his Wife who meditates Suicide, The Lady of Shalott, St. Cecilia, The Woful Victory. The St. Cecilia was evidently intended to illustrate Tennyson’s poem The Palace of Art. It is a different
composition from the same subject as treated by Dante Rossetti, but, like that, it certainly indicates the death of the saint (a point which does not appertain to the poem), and I have no doubt it preceded Rossetti’s design, and therefore this detail of invention properly belongs to Miss Siddal. The Woful Victory is an incident which was to be introduced into Rossetti’s poem The Bride’s Prelude ; that work, however, was
not brought to completion, and the incident was never put into verse, but it appears in the published prose argument of the poem. I must not beguile the reader into supposing that these designs by Miss Siddal are works of any developed execution: some of them are extremely, and all comparatively, slight. But there is right thought in all of them, and a right intention as to how the thought should be conveyed in the structure of the composition.
Specimens of Elizabeth Siddal’s art are to be found in four books known to me—perhaps not in any others. These are “Tennyson and his Preraphaelite Illustra-
tors,” by G. Somes Layard, 1894; “Dante Rossetti’s Letters to William Allingham,” edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill, 1897; “The English Preraphaelite Painters,” by Percy H. Bate, 1899; and Marillier’s book previously named, “ Dante Gabriel Rossetti,” 1899. There is likewise her portrait of herself in my Memoir of Dante Rossetti published along with his Family letters, 1895.

And his concluding comment:

I will conclude this brief account of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal by saying that, without overrating her actual performances in either painting or poetry, one must fairly pronounce her to have been a woman of unusual capacities, and worthy of being espoused to a painter and poet.

On the whole, a favorable article. I do wonder why he mistakes her age and the death of her father, but perhaps these were not intentional changes on his part. I will continue to add more writings of WMR here, in effort to create a better account of Lizzie’s life, as written by those who knew her.

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One Comment

  • mark stevens

    Fascinating article,thanks for bringing it to our attention.Anything that adds to my knowledge of this wonderful woman is so gratefully received.

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