Although I have a huge appreciation of Art Deco to Atomic decor, did you know that I am passionate about PreRaphaelite art to? It Juxtaposes rather well with my Steampunk hobby as the PreRaphalite Brotherhood hated that the Victorian era was heading more towards industry and that modern art (at that time) was not what they thought beautiful. They adored 14th and 15th Century romantisism and Italian paintings before Raphael (although they apparently had nothing against his work at all).
The PRB was created in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, who were all in their early 20’s. Later, James Collinson, art critic William Rossetti, F.G. Stephens and sculptor Thomas Woolner were invited to join the exclusive club. As well as parties, affairs and crazy pets (The Brotherhood were nuts about Wombats and the animal was depicted in a number of paintings and poems), Rossetti ended up owning a couple and named one ‘Tops’ after his good friend William Morris. The poor thing was not well however, and after its death he had it stuffed and displayed at home. Other pets included kangaroos, a toucan, llama and raccoons amongst others. You can just imagine the noise complaints from his neighbours.
Rossetti was infatuated by red hair. Whether it was the rarity of the colour (only 2% of the world’s population) or the mythical symbolism surrounding it (vampires, evil, sorceresses, passion…) Im not sure, but red heads certainly feature greatly in the preraphaelite works. Muse Lizzie Siddal was not only a model, but an artist too. She famously posed for Millais’ painting of ‘Ophelia’, having to lie in a freezing cold bath for hours without complaint. She became very ill afterwards and nearly died, but fortunately pulled through. Dante Rossetti was completely in love with her for some time and their relationship was rocky and heated thanks to Siddal’s illnesses and Rossetti’s affairs. It may have been because of these that Lizzie became addicted to Laudanum (opium tincture). After the loss of her baby, she spiralled into depression and died of an overdose soon after.
At her funeral, Dante placed a book of his hand written poems next to her cheek, entwining some of her beautiful red hair around it. After 7 years, he seemed to have gotten over his wife’s death enough to realise he wanted his beloved book back. He had her body exhumed and lamented the fact that he received the manuscript back decayed, soggy, stinking of disinfectant and littered with worm holes. Blurgh.
So now I bring you to the images you have been scrolling through! I have wanted to do a preRaphaelite photoshoot for years and finally got my opportunity with photographer Wayland Thor Badger! I had previously made the dress for a friend’s wedding many years ago and had recently found it again. It seemed to be perfect for a romantic, medieval feel. It was a magical day of shooting, with little Shetland ponies munching nettles on the opposite bank and the sound of the river trickling over stones. This is our nod to the PRB, Lizzie Siddal and all those gorgeous red heads. All 2% of you.