Eleanor Elizabeth Siddal (Siddal Post #6)

Eleanor Elizabeth Siddal (Siddal Post #7)

Lovers Listening to Music by Elizabeth Siddal was completed in 1854. Like Pippa Passes it is signed and dated “E.E.S. 54” and is of a similar size and finish to form a pair (Marsh and Nunn 115).

W.M. Rossetti described it as “Two lovers listening to the music of two dark Malay-looking women”. It is unknown where Siddal’s inspiration came from for this illustration, but it likely came from a literary source (Marsh and Nunn 115).

It is feasible that she illustrated a few lines of her poetry; “Love kept my heart in a song of joy / My pulses quivered to the tune; / The coldest blasts of winter blew / Upon it like sweet airs in June.” (Marsh and Nunn 115).

Like Pippa Passing the female figure seems to be a self-portrait. W.M. Rossetti suggested that the male figure was his brother, which is very likely as he worked in Siddal’s studio. The part I love the best is a sketch by Siddal from 1853 where he sits for her (Marsh and Nunn 115). Women artists in the past didn’t get much opportunity to represent men, unless they were chaperoned so “nothing” could happen (mostly actions of a sexual nature).  It is unclear if he sat for her without a chaperone; if he did, that would be a scandalous action to anyone who knew about it!

The child represents Love and is reminiscent of the angel in Rossetti’s Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849, Tate Gallery). The background is thought to be inspired from the Hastings area as she resided there in spring 1854 (Marsh and Nunn 115).

In March of 1855, Siddal accidentally sells Lovers Listening to Music (which was originally purchased by William Allingham), to John Ruskin who bought all of her existing drawings at once (Chapman and Meacock 90). The replicate she produced for Allingham is (or was) on loan to Wightwick Manor (Marsh and Nunn 115).

For not having any formal art education before creating Pippa Passing and Two Lovers Listening to Music shows potential. I’ve said it before, but if only she had had the opportunity to live a full live, I think she would have produced some phenomenal work! She did attended a ladies art class at Sheffield Art School in 1857. After this she embarked on her artistic career with little to no formal instruction. However, she was a part of D.G. Rossetti’s life, so she received knowledge (and probably inspiration) this way (Prettejohn, 189).

Without this connection to Rossetti, I doubt we would know as much as we do today because women artists were not taken seriously.  Going way back to the Renaissance, if a woman artist produced a great work it would often be accredited to a male artist, or people would think she paid a man to paint it and put her name on it.  I’m still in the midsts of learning about Pre-Raphaelite art, but the men who consisted of the movement, seemed to be ahead of their time in how they encouraged women artists.

I personally like Pippa Passing better than Two Lovers Listening to Music for two reasons.  The first is that I feel Pippa Passing has smoother hatching to the clothing, giving it a cleaner appearance.  I also love how the viewer must know about the “fallen” woman to fully appreciate this work.  Even though I don’t like the rougher texture to the shading in Two Lovers Listening to Music, I think it does fit with the countryside setting that gives it more of a rustic atmosphere.

Works Cited

Marsh, Jan, and Pamela Gerrish Nunn. “Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists”. London, Thames and Hudson: 1997. Print.

Chapman, Alison, and Joanna Meacock. A Rossetti Family Chronology. Great Britian, Palgrave Macmillan: 2007. Print.

Prettejohn, Elizabeth. The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites. New York, Cambridge University Press: 2012. Print.

Eleanor Elizabeth Siddal (Siddal Post #5)

Eleanor Elizabeth Siddal

Pippa Passes was created in 1854. It is signed and dated “E.E.S. 54″ and was rendered with pen and brown ink over pencil on paper. This drawing was purchased by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford in 1977. In addition to this piece, two other identical versions were produced by Siddal as a possibility for future sales (Marsh and Nunn 115).

I wanted to start with Pippa Passes because it’s one of Siddal’s earliest finished drawings. It also encompasses the prevalent style of outline drawing and literary subjects that were seen throughout early Pre-Raphaelite art (Marsh and Nunn 115).

This drawing inspired by Robert Browning’s dramatic poem Pippa Passes illustrates scene III of his work. Set in a modern age, the heroine (Pippa) meanders throughout the city of Asolo and comes across a group of “Poor Girls sitting on the steps”. As she passes by she overhears their conversation, as they boldly gossip to one another about their lovers and clients. As Siddal was a young milliner in the early 1850′s, she likely encountered prostitutes in the streets of London much in the same way as the heroine happened upon the gossiping girls (Marsh and Nunn 115).

This illustration symbolizes the moral differences between Pippa, who wears modest clothing, no accessories, walks upright, and conveys a peaceful expression, and the “Poor Girls” who are attired to be more eye catching, show expression, and sit on the ground. These representations fit with the contemporary concern over the types of women who were looked down upon, and were considered to have “fallen” in society’s eyes. Take a look at the links below showing Hunt’s Awakening Conscience in the Tate Gallery or Rossetti’s unfinished Found both from 1854 that touch on the subject on the “fallen” woman (Marsh and Nunn 115).

http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/whh/replete/P10.html

http://paintingforsale.me/paintings/dante-gabriel-rossetti/dante-gabriel-rossetti-found-14329.html

Sorry I couldn’t find a better link to Rossetti’s work (surprising I know)!

I find it interesting that as a woman artist, Siddal choose to stick with the concept of the “fallen” woman (Marsh and Nunn 115). I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Pippa in this work is a self-portrait of Siddal, but I think the face hints at her features and she has lighter colored hair (when compared to the other women), so perhaps she was replicating the reddish tone of her hair? If so, then she would be connecting herself to the image of the upright and virtuous woman, and not that of the “fallen” type.

One last little tidbit! John Ruskin purchased this piece in 1855 and exhibited it at the 1857 Pre-Raphaelite salon. Rossetti showed it to Robert Browning, the poet who inspired Siddal’s art in November of 1855. Browning was “delighted beyond measure” (Marsh and Nunn 115).

Works Cited
Marsh, Jan, and Pamela Gerrish Nunn. “Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists”. London, Thames and Hudson: 1997. Print.

“Pippa Passes”. Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. Web. 6 Mar. 2013. http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/pippa-passes/.

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #4)

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #5)

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)!

Works Cited

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

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #3)

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #4)

John Everett Millais. Ophelia. 1852. Oil on canvas. 762 x 1118 mm. Tate Brtitain, London. Art, Archaeology and Architecture (Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives).

Siddal also modeled for Millais’s Ophelia. After posing as Ophelia in a basin of tepid water during the chilly winter months, her health deteriorated, and illness plagued her for the rest of her short life (Elizabeth).

In this painting Siddal is portrayed in death, yet she is still beautiful. The viewer is immediately drawn to her face as her porcelain skin contrasts with the dark water that flows around her form. If her eyes were shut (and we didn’t see the rest of her body), the expression on her face gives off the appearance that she is peacefully sleeping.

Millais has kept Siddal’s familiar red hair, however it is toned down in this painting. I believe he wanted the emphasis to be on her deathly pale skin. By blending her hair into the shadows of the water, it also adds a touch of soberness and reinforces the reality that she is no longer alive. Continuing on this note, her dress is also very pale, and the only color comes from what still has life, which are the plants.

After learning more about Siddal and her early death, this painting is fitting for her actual life. There is a beauty to Ophelia and the viewer feels sadness that her life was cut short, paralleling the abrupt death of Siddal, who I believe had much art and poetry left to produce.  If anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to do so!  I would love to get individual reactions and extra knowledge from my readers!

Works Cited

“Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1834-1862)”. The Victorian Web. 16 Sep. 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/siddal/index.html

“Rosetti’s Other Woman: The Silent Contribution of Models and Muses.” Blue-Stocking. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. http://blue-stocking.org.uk/2011/03/01/rosetti’s-other-woman-the-silent-contribution-of-models-and-muses/ 

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #2)

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #2)

In the early 1850’s, Walter Howell Deverell (1827-1854) asked Siddal to model for Viola in his Twelfth Night (pictured; detail of left figure). Her tall physique, porcelain skin, and beautiful coppery-red hair inspired other Pre-Raphaelite artists to use her as a model as well (Elizabeth; Walter).

In Deverell’s work, we get a glimpse of Siddal’s fiery red hair that frames her delicate features. One can almost feel the smoothness of her fine tresses as they glint with copper, shimmering in the light and ending in curly tendrils that softly brush her neck.

There is a liveliness to her pale skin. A faint, rosy blush canvases her cheeks and spreads across her nose. Her lips are warmly tinted and she is clothed in a brilliant, red silk or satin dress that catches the light with luster.

I get a sense of passion from her attire and how Deverell has painted her with such vitality. However, her expression is very guarded or bland in comparison. There is a look of slight boredom or uncertainty on her face. Not knowing the story behind this work I can only make assumptions to what is happening within the work. Eventually, I would love to have a post on Deverell’s Twelfth Night, so check back in!

Works Cited

“Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1834-1862)”. The Victorian Web. 16 Sep. 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. http://www.victorianweb.org/

“Walter Deverell”. ArtStor. ArtStor, Inc., 2012. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. http://www.artstor.org.

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (Siddal Post #1)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal, 1854, Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, DE

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Siddal, 1854, Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, DE

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal was an intriguing Pre-Raphaelite artist who produced a variety of works, including poetry, drawings, and paintings (mainly watercolor, but she dabbled in oil too (Prettejohn 185, 189).


Siddal’s birth is debatable; some place it at 1829, while others in 1834 (Elizabeth; Prettejohn 183). Her death occurred on February 11th, 1862 of a laudanum overdose, a type of opiate to relieve pain. After being found unconscious, doctors pumped her stomach to no avail (Chapman and Meacock 144). Her early death points to suicide (in 1949, Helen Rossetti Angeli claims that Siddal left a suicide note), and she likely had a laudanum addiction too (Elizabeth; Chapman and Meacock 144).


The watercolor Miss Siddal (pictured) by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti is one of the many works he produced of her; he obsessively sketched Siddal’s features throughout the 1850’s until her death in 1862 (Chapman and Meacock 59; Rossetti).
Look for more exciting information on Siddal in my next post!

Works Cited
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.

Prettejohn, Elizabeth. The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites. New York, Cambridge University Press: 2012. Print.

“Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription” Rossetti Archive.  2008.  Web. 5 Mar. 2013.  http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/nd497.r8.m33.rad.html#A.R37.1.

(Image from: http://artseverydayliving.com/blog/2012/04/rossetti/)