Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Now, Back to Stitching!

I love William Morris's designs.  Beth Russell, inspired by Morris, has created some gorgeous needlepoint designs.  I have several I'm currently working on, but my favorite is finished.   I read this saying from Morris years ago and was thrilled to see it come to life through Ms. Russell's talents.

Here's my October Christmas ornament SAL.  Even got it all completed and ready to hang on the tree!

More stitching to come!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

PRB - Part 4

Now let me tell you a little about Rossetti - he was born in London in May of 1828, the son of an Italian immigrant family.  His father, Gabriel Rossetti, was a famous Italian poet and Dante scholar who had come to England as a refugee after the Neapolitan revolution in 1821.

Rossetti aspired to be a poet and attended King's College School.  However, he also wished to be a painter. He studied at Henry Sass's Drawing Academy from 1841 to 1845 when he enrolled at the Antique School of the Royal Academy, leaving in 1848.  After leaving the Royal Academy, Rossetti studied under Ford Madox Brown before transferring his allegiance to Holman Hunt.  His friendship with Hunt and subsequent meeting with Mallais was the major factor in the creation of the PRB.  Criticism of his paintings caused him to withdraw from public exhibitions and turn to watercolors, which he sold privately.

In the early 1850s he met Elizabeth Siddal.  The twenty-year-old with her tall thin frame and copper hair was the first of the PRB stunners.  She became his lover, and after and on-off relationship, he married her in 1860.

Rossetti made many pencil drawings of Lizzie which were extremely beautiful and sensitive.  In 1862, after the still birth of their child, Lizzie committed suicide by overdosing on laudanum.  Overcome with grief, Rossetti enclosed a small journal in Elizabeth's coffin containing the only copies he had of many of his poems.  He is said to have slid the book into her red hair.  In 1862 he produced the famous picture "Beata Beatrix", a tribute to his deceased wife, who was quite obviously the model for Beatrix.

In 1869, Rossetti had his wife's body exhumed to recover his poems.  The mental problems, which ultimately destroyed him, were most likely to have started from this unhappy and bizarre event.

In the last twenty years of his life, Rossetti became increasingly obsessed with Jane Morris, the wife of his friend William Morris.  For most of these years, his pictures were of lone women.  Most of the pictures had a stylized Jane Morris as their model.  In the 1870s Rossetti became addicted to chloral (a narcotic) and alcohol.  Consequently, Jane Morris broke off their relationship, as he started to lose his reason.

Toward the end of his life, Rossetti sank into a morbid state, darkened by his drug addiction to choral and increasing mental instability.  This was possibly worsened by his reaction to savage critical attacks on his disinterred poetry from the manuscript poems he had buried with his wife.  He spent his last years as a withdrawn recluse.

He died at the house of a friend on Easter Sunday, 1882.  He had gone there in an attempt to recover his health, which had been destroyed by choral as Elizabeth's had been destroyed by laudanum.  He is buried at Birchington-on-the-Sea, Kent, England.

So, what is the connection between Rossetti and William Morris besides Rossetti's attraction to his wife Jane?  Morris founded a design firm with Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones as partners.   And the rest, as they say, is history.

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.