Photo credit: Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Regina Cordium by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 1860.
Oil on panel. Dimensions: 10 x 8 in.
Exhibition History: New Gallery, 1897 (no.61); R.A., 1973 (no.300); Tate, 1984 (no.114) (Regina).
After modeling for Millais’ Ophelia, she sat solely for Dante Gabrielle Rossetti who rapidly fell in love with her, and inspired many of his poems and paintings at this time (Elizabeth).
John Ruskin referred to Siddal as Rossetti’s “pupil”, and in 1856, Frank Maddox Brown insists that she is only his pupil and not his fiancé (Chapman and Meacock 80; 97). On May 23rd 1860, Siddal and Rossetti are finally married after several delays due to her ill health. Sadly, neither family nor friends are present for the occasion (Chapman and Meacock 127).
In September 1860, she models for Rossetti’s Regina Cordium (pictured), a year and a half before her death (Chapman and Meacock 129; Elizabeth).
In Reginan Cordium, Siddal’s features are once again present, but they have Rossetti’s artistic stylization applied. Rossetti gives his women a solid and slightly husky appearance. I particularly like how he has treated her hair. It has a thick and luxurious quality that is further enhanced by the deep crimson red tone.
Rossetti has also chosen to portray Siddal with rosy pink cheeks and full sensual lips. Like many other works where she sat as the model, she shows very little expression and does not meet the viewer’s eyes. As in Deverell’s Twelfth Night, she is posed holding a flower. She also has a red, beaded necklace with a heart, and I’m assuming this is Rossetti showing his love for Siddal. It is interesting that in Deverell’s Twelfth Night, Siddal was also dressed in red (it may be nothing though, as Pre-Raphaelite artists loved to use bright colors)!
Chapman, Alison, and Joanna Meacock. A Rossetti Family Chronology. Great Britian, Palgrave Macmillan: 2007. Print.
“Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1834-1862)”. The Victorian Web. 16 Sep. 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/siddal/index.html
“Regina Cordium”. Rossetti Archive. 2008. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/s120.rap.html