Friday, October 18, 2013

PRB - Part Three

I've been invisible for a few weeks.  Lots happening with Mom - moved her to a different nursing home.  It is AWESOME!  I decorated her room so it's more like her home.  The care, compassion and attention to details by the staff is amazing.  We attend daily mass and she gets her vodka tonic every day at 4PM.  She and my step-father used to have their one drink every day at 4PM before her stroke.  They also attended mass each and every day.  Anything we can do to make her life more familiar is a blessing.

Last time I posted, I shared John Ruskin's support of Lizzie Siddal and also her addiction to laudanum. Now we'll explore the tumultuous relationship between Siddal and Rossetti.

When Rossetti met Lizzie, he was smitten with her beauty.  She was what the PRB called "a stunner".  He began using her exclusively as the model in his paintings beginning in 1853 with his watercolor "The First Anniversary of the Death of Beatrice".  After becoming engaged to Rossetti, Siddal began to study with him, becoming both his mistress and his student.

Rossetti, however, was not one to remain faithful to his fiancé.  He reportedly had several affairs during the course of their engagement.  Lizzie was insecure with their relationship and used her frail health (brought on by an addiction to laudanum and a tendency toward anorexia) to repeatedly manipulate Rossetti and regain his attention whenever she believed he had strayed.  Countless times she was considered to be near death.  When Rossetti would get word she was close to death's door, he would rush to her side.  She would miraculously recover once he appeared.

Lizzie and Rossetti made each other indescribably happy as well as sad.  Their marriage was doomed form the start.  Rossetti was reluctant to propose marriage, supposedly in part because of Lizzie's working class background.  Waiting for years for Rossetti to consent to marriage took its toll on Lizzie's health.  Lizzie's supporter, John Ruskin, scolded Rossetti in his letters for not marrying Lizzie and giving her the security she needed.  During this period she also began to write poetry, often with dark themes about lost love or the impossibility of true love.

Siddal travelled to Paris and Nice several years for her health.  She returned to England in 1860 to marry Rossetti.  They were married May 23, 1860.  She lived five minutes away from the small church in Hastings at the time of her wedding.  Though the walk was a short distance, she was so frail she had to be carried to the church.  The marriage to her lover had finally taken place.  By this time her health had degraded to badly, she was severely depressed and very ill.

In 1861, Lizzie became pregnant.  She and Rossetti were overjoyed about the pregnancy.  The pregnancy ended in a stillborn daughter in 1862.  Sadly, shortly after the death of their daughter, Lizzie committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum.  She was 32 years old.


  1. Kim I am so happy you have a good home for your mother now. It sounds to be a good fit.

  2. I am so happy for you dear friend..
    Big hugs x