Advertisements

Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Lady Lilith" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts Lilith, who is a figure from Jewish mythology and is portrayed as an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair. The name ‘Lilith’ is derived from the Babylonian Talmud and refers to a dangerous demon of the night, associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children. The character is thought to have been derived from the stories of female demons in ancient Mesopotamian religion, found in the cuneiform texts of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia.

Rossetti first painted this artwork using Fanny Cornforth as the model; he then altered the painting to show the face of another model, Alexa Wilding. Rossetti overpainted Cornforth’s face, after the success of his picture of “Sibylla Palmifera”, in which Wilding is the model and because he was starting a relationship with Fanny Cornforth. “Lady Lilith” represents the body’s beauty and “Sibylla Palmifera” represents the soul’s beauty, according to Rossetti ‘s sonnet.

Fanny Cornforth (1835 – 1909) became the Rossetti’s model and mistress. In Rossetti’s paintings, the figures modelled by Fanny Cornforth are generally voluptuous, differing from those of his other models.

"Sibylla Palmifera" by Rossetti,

“Sibylla Palmifera” by Rossetti, representing the soul’s beauty

A replica of Lady Lilith, painted by Rossetti in watercolour, which shows the face of Cornforth, is at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a verse from Goethe’s Faust as translated by Shelley on a label attached by Rossetti to its frame:

“Beware of her fair hair, for she excels
All women in the magic of her locks,
And when she twines them round a young man’s neck
she will not ever set him free again.”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator, who founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Its sensuality and its medieval revivalism characterised Rossetti’s art. Rossetti’s personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses.

Pre-Raphaelites

The Pre-Raphaelites was a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848. The group intended to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by the artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite”. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Pre-Raphaelite Italian art.

The Pre-Raphaelites focused on painting subjects from modern life and literature often used historical costumes for accuracy. They painted directly from nature itself, as accurately as possible and with intense attention to detail.

The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their art, and published a periodical to promote their ideas. A later, medieval influence extended the movement’s power into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse.

Reflections

  • How is “Lady Lilith” presented relative “Sibylla Palmifera”?
  • Which painting do you prefer, ‘body’s beauty’ or ‘soul’s beauty’?

Exploring Pre-Raphaelite Art

Lady Lilith

  • Title:                  Lady Lilith
  • Artist:                Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Date:                 1866-68 (altered 1872-73)
  • Medium:           Oil on canvas
  • Style:                 Pre-Raphaelite
  • Dimensions:      97.8 × 85.1 cm (38.5 × 33.5 in)
  • Museum:           Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  • Name:                 Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti
  • Born:                   1828 – London, England
  • Died:                   1882 (aged 53) – Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England
  • Notable works:

Quotes about the Pre-Raphaelite Movement

~~~

“All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul, and chiefly of the soul.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“The greatest foe to art is luxury, art cannot live in its atmosphere.”
– William Morris

~~~

“Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
– William Morris

~~~

“Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.”
– Christina Rossetti

~~~

“Paint the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.”
– William Morris

~~~

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“If you cannot learn to love real art at least learn to hate sham art’.
– William Morris

~~~

“The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.”
– William Morris

~~~

“The more materialistic science becomes, the more angels shall I paint. Their wings are my protest in favor of the immortality of the soul.”
– Edward Burne-Jones

~~~

“The artist has done nothing till he has concealed himself — the art is imperfect which is visible,-the feelings are but feebly touched, if they permit us to reason on the methods of their excitement.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love.”
– William Morris

~~~

“With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on.”
– William Morris

~~~

“When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me”
– Christina Rossetti

~~~

“Love, which is quickly kindled in the gentle heart, seized this man for the fair form that was taken from me, the manner still hurts me. Love which absolves no beloved one from loving, seized me so strongly with his charm that, as thou sees, it does not leave me yet”
– Dante Gabriel Rossetti

~~~

“He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;”
– Christina Rossetti

~~~

“The term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ is in danger of becoming one of the most misused tags in art history”
– Christopher Wood

~~~

“Art is not a study of positive reality; it is the seeking for ideal truth.”
– John Ruskin

~~~


Photo Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Advertisements