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Pre-Raphaelite Fetishism

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Model Elizabeth “Lizzie” Siddal

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood consisted of a number of painters, most notably Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and others. During the five years of its existence, it created a number of unforgettable images featuring a number of stunning models.

In his extensive history, The Victorians, A N Wilson writes:

The word ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ in popular modern parlance does not refer to particular painting techniques or attitudes to the Middle Ages. It means young women with pale faces, pouting lips and abundant hair. The hair was important; so important that hairdressing, for the first time in English history, came out of the private domain of the home.

Elizabeth Siddal as Ophelia in a Painting by Millais

Pre-eminent of the abundant red-haired models of the Pre-Raphaelites was Elizabeth Siddal, who had a relationship of sorts with Rossetti. When she died in 1862 after years of drug abuse with laudanum (opium), she was buried with the only copy of a manuscript of poems by Rossetti, who later regretted his impulsive act. In fact, by 1870 he regretted his impulsive act of burying the manuscript with Siddal. He had the body exhumed and retrieved his manuscript.

Other equally beautiful Pre-Raphaelite models were Fanny Cornforth and Annie Miller.

Fanny Cornforth in “The Kissed Mouth” by D G Rossetti

Annie Miller in D G Rossetti’s “The Woman in Yellow”

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