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Anna Sidelnikova
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Laudanum is an opium spirit tincture, which in Victorian England was considered the panacea for all diseases. And above all, sedative, analgesic and hypnotic. Dante's wife, Gabriel Rossetti, was 33 years old when she took a lethal dose of laudanum: either she simply exceeded her allowable dose of medicine, without which she had not done the last few years, or she deliberately committed suicide.

"Blessed Beatrice" Rossetti wrote shortly after the death of Elizabeth Siddal from sketches and drawings, which he made hundreds during their life together. Elizabeth worked in a hat shop when the artist saw her Walter Deverell, who came into the shop by chance with his mother. After this meeting, he toldHolman Hunt and Rossetti: “She is like a queen: magnificently tall, with a beautiful figure, a magnificent neck, a gentle face, a smooth transition of lines from the temples to the cheekbones exactly resembles the sculpture of the goddess Phidias ... Wait, I have not finished yet! She has gray eyes, and her hair is like sparkling copper and shimmers when she dissolves them. ”. Pre-Raphaelite artists found the ideal model, as if descended from the early Renaissance frescoes - Millet wrote from her Ophelia, Hunt -Sylvia. Then Lizzy introduced Rossetti - and she became his personal model, mistress, and soon a student. For 10 years they lived together - temperamental, passionate, quick-tempered, talented, both poets and artists. Dante painted her obsessively, every day, her face looked from each sketch and canvas in his mother. Elizabeth was sick with tuberculosis, frequent attacks laid her for a long time in bed, after some time the curved spine began to cause attacks of neuralgia - then opium tincture was in her hands. In 1860, when the state of the girl was critical, a desperate Rossetti decided to marry her. He felt guilty because he did not dare to do this before, and he could not boast of loyalty in this 10-year relationship. And suddenly the meaning of his life, his beloved, his model, his Beatrice - at death.

Elizabeth Rossetti felt better after the wedding, but lived in marriage only two years. These were not at all cloudless relations between the muse and the inspired poet, marred, moreover, by miscarriage, insomnia, drug addiction. In 1862, Lizzy took a deadly dose of laudanum — either wanting to alleviate the unbearable pain, or she decided to get rid of the pain forever. And the widowed artist conceived "Blessed Beatrice"on which will work 6 years.

Beatrice is an image that Lizzy completely belonged to in the work of Rossetti. She posed for “Meet Dante and Beatrice in Paradise”, "Sleep Dante on the death of Beatrice", "Beatrice Greetings". And now Rossetti writes it at the moment of parting with the world - in a blissful and humble acceptance of the end. The dove puts a poppy in her open palm - a symbol of death. Behind her shoulders, an angel of love, dressed in red, holds a dying fire - a symbol of dying life. The second figure is Rossetti himself in the image of Dante, who is no longer able to hold his beloved on the ground. In one of the letters, the artist said that he sought not to depict death, but to replace it with a certain state of trance, in which Beatrice is transferred from earth to heaven.

John Ruskinsaid about the unusual property of light in the works of Rossetti in the 60s: “His light is not the sunlight itself, but the sunlight scattered through colored glass”. The first impression of “Blessed Beatrice” is exactly this: the light radiates the entire figure of the girl, her hands and the hem of the dress, her shining hair shines from the inside, and not highlighted by an external source, the sun from a distant city.

After the death of Elizabeth Rossetti could not live in their common home - and moved. “Blessed Beatrice” he will repeat a few more times (mainly receiving an order for this particular image). With each new remark, the light in Beatrice’s hands and hair will be increasingly uncertain and dull, as will the memories of Elizabeth being driven out of Rossetti’s life by new women, opium and whiskey.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Blessed Beatrice
Blessed Beatrice
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
1870, 86.4×66 cm
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"Youth of the Virgin Mary" - A picture with an impressive track record and indisputable historical status. This will have to be explained and proved, because very different works have glorified the artist, and they are sold from auctions for 5-7 million dollars completely different. She still has no hint of the famous recognizable muses Rossetti, with sensual red lips, thin fancifully folded fingers, a long powerful neck and fiery red hair. But this picture takes the same place in the history of British art as “The impression. Sunrise "- in the history of French art.

Proof # 1. This is the first picture in which the pre-Raphaelite distinctive sign “PRB” appeared, a symbol of a new world view, a symbol of a tiny artistic group that just gathered to chill powder from the faces of beautiful women, find a blush under it, free women from corsets and complex hairstyles, inventory plants in British forests and fields and remind viewers that each one is different. When this picture first appeared at an exhibition at the Royal Academy, the “PRB” badge did not tell anyone about anything - and the neighboring dull brown bitumen confidently academic canvases were still in the majority and did not feel threatened.

Proof № 2. This is the first oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. And his first work, which turned out to be at a public exhibition. The young 21-year-old artist was apparently very worried that the painting at the Royal Academy's exhibition would not be accepted, so he hurried on the advice of a friend and teacher.Ford Madox Brown present it first at the “Free Exhibition”, where there were no judges. Surprisingly, they also accepted her to the Academy - and even the reviews about the paintings of all three Pre-Raphaelites were quite favorable.Hunt presented at the same exhibition "Rienzi", butMillet - "Lorenzo and Isabella". Some deviations from the academic norms were considered a manifestation of youth and inexperience. The Youth of the Virgin Mary was sold immediately after the exhibition for 80 guineas.

Proof number 3. It will take only a year - and already in 1850, poisonous arrows will fly in the direction of all three Pre-Raphaelites from all sides: academicians, journalists, writers will write dozens of mocking and offended reviews. Most will get the picture Millet"Christ in the parental house" - on it the Holy Family is written as a handful of barefoot commoners from an ordinary London carpentry workshop. The moment from the sacred history of Millet ventured to write as if it were his neighbors.

Either because in the picture of Rossetti, written a year earlier, one cannot see the heels of the Virgin Mary under the dress, or because Rossetti is not in principle prone to meticulous naturalism, like Hunt or Millet, his work in 1849 was not considered sacrilegious. Although all the characters are written from family members: Rossetti's sister Christina, his mother Francis, and even from a servant, old Williams. And despite the pious occupation of the Virgin Mary, such an idea of her youth still contradicted the tradition in which it was customary to depict the young Mother of God reading a book.

Proof № 4. In one of the letters, Rossetti shared his vision for the future work: “The painting is about the upbringing of the Most Holy Theotokos, whichMurillo and other painters repeatedly interpretedbut, it seems to me, completely disregarding historical adequacy, since they invariably presented her reading the book under the supervision of St. Anne's mother. This occupation does not correspond to the epoch - and can only be admitted as a symbolic image. Therefore, I tried to present something more appropriate and not so familiar: the future Mother of our Lord is engaged in embroidering lilies under the direction of St. Anne; the flower, which she copies, is kept by two little angels. At the large window (or rather, the opening) in the background is seen her father, St. Joachim, pruning the vine. There are also various symbolic details that do not need interpretation. ”.

Holman Hunt, who shared a workshop with Rossetti in 1849, helped him cope with the composition - and one of the angels in the process of working on the painting disappeared. And the characters that were understandable to the Rossetti addressee now require at least a brief interpretation. The books, which the Most Holy Theotokos, due to historical circumstances, could not read, occupy a symbolic place they had - one of the virtues is written on the spine of each of them, and all of them together create a solid foundation for a vase with a lily. Lily in turn - a symbol of innocence. The palm branch and the rosehip branch symbolize Palm Sunday and the Crucifixion of her future Son. The vine that Joachim prunes is a symbol of Christ himself.

Finally, proof No. 5. In the very first pictorial work of Dante, Gabriel Rossetti was able to unnoticeably careless critics demonstrate the main ideas of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: loyalty to nature and a return to medieval aesthetics and symbols.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Youth of the Virgin Mary
Youth of the Virgin Mary
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
1849, 83.2×63.4 cm
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote 8 pictorial images of "Proserpina" - and the painting, which is now in the Tate Gallery in London, is considered the seventh. It was intended for the collection of the Liverpool shipowner, magnate and collectorFrederick Richards Leyland instead of the previous one, exactly the same, but suffered during transportation.

It seems that Leyland was persistent in his passionate desire to add “Proserpina” to his impressive collection of paintings. Rossetti also passionately dreamed of writing a woman who posed for Proserpina. Eight times - so eight. And the best is hundreds, thousands of times. Model artist was Jane Morris, wife William Morris. Spouses Morris and Dante Rossetti have a strange and complicated relationship. Jane was unhappy in marriage and did not tear it apart just because of the children. Rossetti was obsessed with this woman, was in love and desperate, and therefore he lived in the Oxford summer manor Morris Kelmskott for months without shame of conscience. William Morris himself put up with the relationship of his wife and friend, sometimes left home and disappeared for many days, and even for the whole summer, he knew perfectly well that it was impossible to resist the elements. Here, in the Morris house, Rossetti wrote “Proserpina”. Here they spent two summers together in 1871 and 1872. Here, remaining alone with his beloved, he imagined that she had left the kingdom of Hades for him - and the whole earth, the whole world blossomed and came to life, filled with smells and colors. It was like spring.

The myth of Proserpine is the story of a rebirth and short-lived happiness, of doom and submission to fate. Proserpina is the daughter of Ceres, the goddess of fertility and agriculture. God of the kingdom of the dead Pluto (in Greek mythology - Hades) stole the beautiful Proserpina when they collected flowers, and made him his wife. Inconsolable Ceres was looking for a daughter everywhere - and from her anguish the land became barren and dry, the vines died, wild animals went into holes and caves, entire nations died of starvation. After a long prayer and tears of his mother, Jupiter took pity - and allowed Propepin back from the realm of the dead, provided she did not have time to take any food in the underworld. But the girl took several pomegranate seeds from Pluto, a symbol of marriage, and by the final decision of Jupiter she was obliged to spend under the ground as many months in a year as she ate. They turned out to be 6. Since then half a year Proserpina lives on the ground - and then comes the heat, the birds sing and the flowers bloom, the ears spike and the trees are heavy with fruits. But when she returns to her husband, to the realm of the dead, where sunlight does not penetrate, the earth stops, goes to sleep and sadness. And the life of Jane Morris, hostage to incomprehensible obligations, and the state of Rossetti himself, who was supposed to let go of her lover to her unloved husband, suggested the plot of the picture.

This is one of the unique works of the artist-poet, in which the verses explain what is depicted, and the painting turns out to be an illustration of the verses. In the upper right-hand corner of the canvas, Rossetti wrote a sonnet about Proserpine in Italian:

Oh bright day for a brief moment
Your pale beam to the forgotten corner
My dungeon, in the sorrowful palace!
Blooming Enna and native fields
Not worth the fruit that my eyes
Stole the light of heaven. Full of longing
Meadows Aida. Oh how far
Old days from the next nights!
How far I am from myself -
Vita in thoughts somewhere, waiting sign
And with my heart I hear how, languishing in delirium,
Another soul whispers, hidden by darkness:
“How hard, Proserpina, your peace!
Oh, woe! Do not exceed your misfortune.
(Translated by A. Kruglov)

One of eight paintings depicting Proserpina in 2013 was sold at Sotheby's auction for 5.2 million dollars - at that time it became the most expensive work of the artist. Rossetti repeated “Proserpina” for more than 10 years in a row - partly because he received orders for this particular picture and, of course, often needed money, partly because this image was following him. In one of the letters, he said that he considered it his best work. And repeated several months before his death, in a narcotic and alcoholic stupor, in the midst of his illness, half-blind and paralyzed. Jane Morris had by then refused a close relationship with the artist. They began to bring her too much suffering.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Proserpine
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
1874, 125.1×61 cm
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Британский музей обогатился на 10 фунтов стерлингов. Правда, поддельных. Правда, выпущенных самим Бэнкси – так что со временем эта купюра будет только расти в цене. В 2004 году художник напечатал целый миллион в десятифунтовых купюрах, на которых портрет королевы Елизаветы II заменил на портрет принцессы Дианы, и разбросал купюры в толпе на Ноттинг-Хиллском карнавале. А теперь управляющая компания Бэнкси пожертвовала одну купюру Британскому музею. На ней изображены Чарльз Дарвин и надпись «Никому не верь». Она будет помещена в отдел металлов и монет (а не рисунков и гравюр).
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Pablo Picasso. Portrait Of Gertrude Stein
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3 февраля 1874 года родилась Гертруда Стайн – американская писательница, которая значительную часть жизни провела в Париже и дружбой с тамошними художниками прославилась едва ли не больше, чем своими литературными произведениями. Она коллекционировала картины Модильяни, Шагала, Брака, близко общалась с Матиссом и Пикассо, которым посвятила книгу. Стайн писала: «Странные вещи происходят со всем на свете, странные вещи происходят с картинами, бывает, что картина кажется вам чрезвычайно странной, но со временем она не только не кажется странной, но вы уже не в состоянии понять, что же такого странного было в ней раньше». Она продвигала кубизм, но ее портрет кисти Пикассо (1906) выполнен в менее авангардной манере.
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English Dr. William Ecton, in his book Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, stated that women, by their nature, cannot experience sexual attraction. Her natural needs are to take care of the children and the house, and if the husband had not shown a desire for intimacy, she would not have sought her. Sexual relationships for women - a necessary necessity, which allows you to make a man happy. Dr. Acton was considered a free-thinker and a liberal because he, in principle, spoke of sexuality, prostitution and gender issues. And his opinion in Victorian England was shared by many.

Pre-Raphaelite artists began to write women in such a way that Dr. Acton’s statement no longer seemed so obvious. In the most unexpected states and situations, behind their fatigue, thoughtfulness, fear, sadness, even behind the deathbed sigh lies the passion and unwitting seductiveness of gestures. For the present, the victims and martyrs of their own desires, the women of the Pre-Raphaelites receive permission to feel them.

When in 1851 at the exhibition of the Academy of Arts, John Everett Millet presented the painting “Mariana”, a plate with a quatrain from Alfred Tennyson’s poem of the same name was attached to it:
How life is empty! - she said. -
He will not come in the future.
I'm tired, so tired
It is better to die!

Mariana is the heroine of Shakespeare's play “Measure for Measure,” rejected by her fiance after the girl lost her dowry, and with it her beloved brother. She settled alone in a farmhouse surrounded by a moat. Her days are similar to each other: mice rustle and chirp sparrows, night replaces day, everything is overgrown with moss and slowly sinking into desolation. But the betrayal of the groom and the inability to be near him only added strength to Mariana’s feelings: “His unfair cruelty, instead of quenching his passion, made her, as an obstacle in the stream, even more violent and unbridled”. Millet writes a deceived girl here, in solitude, in silence, in anticipation, in a plea for death instead of such a life. She pulled away from embroidery to stretch her back, but this simple gesture is filled with passion. But only the blind would not see in him every second, exhausting, intense, unspent desire.

Millet, like his pre-Raphaelite friends, chose literary stories to talk about modernity. These three pretty shook the Victorian society, tightened, as in a hard corset, in a set of rules and propriety. In a literal sense, by the way, corsets also began to crack at the seams: women appear at all in the pictures of pre-Raphaelites without this detail of their wardrobe and with their hair loose - a dress code that is allowed only in the married bedroom, but certainly not in the halls of the Royal Academy.

His Mariana peers into the landscape outside the window - and there could easily be a dull English autumn field. An empty, deserted, indifferent world - the permanent, devoid of time will take the scenery to the women's suffering. Mariana suffers not only from external cruelty, but rather from the inner need to be loved, from the heat, which is inflamed the stronger, the more hopeless her position becomes.

Pre-Raphaelites returned to the woman the ability to feel, to have sexual desires, to be the main participant in her own life and the main manager of her own body. This is not the woman Dr. Acton wrote about. This woman craves love and intimacy and is ready to pursue her own. John Everett Millet is getting married to one of these women soon. And who knows, would have decidedEffie Ruskin to a scandalous divorce from the first husband for the love of Millet, if he were not the same artist who writes women without corsets and with flowing hair.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
John Everett Millais. Mariana
John Everett Millais
1851, 59.7×49.5 cm
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At the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy in London in 1850, there was a real scandal - 21-year-old artist John Everett Millet presented the painting “Christ in the house of his parents”. Cynical, blasphemous, defiant and low. In the same room hung a pictureHolman hunt "Convert British family, harboring a missionary from the pursuit of druids". She got it too, but the most fierce disputes were still around Millet's work - if Hunt took up the history of early Christianity, then the upstart Millet swung at the history of the Holy Family itself. Charles Dickens became the harshest and wittiest critic of the Pre-Raphaelites - he published the essay “Old lamps instead of new ones” in the magazine “Home Reading”. And blew the picture to pieces:

“Before us is a carpentry workshop. In the foreground there is a disgusting red-haired boy in a nightgown, in tears, with a twisted neck. It seems that he was playing with his friends somewhere in the gutter and got a stick in his hand, and now he complains to a kneeling woman, so unthinkably ugly, that they would stare at her with horror in the most low-grade French pub or English beer - if, of course, assume that a person with such a coiled neck can live for even a minute. Nearby, two almost bare carpenters, a master and an apprentice, are engaged in their work - worthy companions of this pleasant person. Another boy, in which something human is still dawning, carries a bowl with water, and no one pays attention to an old woman with a yellowed face who apparently went to the tobacco shop and was mistaken by the door, and now she can’t wait for her to be weighed down half an ounce of your favorite snuff. Everything that can be portrayed as ugly in a human face, body, or posture is also depicted. Half-dressed types like these carpenters can be seen in any hospital where dirty drunks with varicose ulcers end up, and their bare feet seem to have flashed here all the way from the slums of St. Giles. ”

Dickens is at the peak of fame, he is adored, he is listened to, he is believed. Moreover, the blasphemous interpretation of the life of the young Christ is already so obvious - Millet took it and presented it as if the sacred scene were taking place around the corner of his own house.

John Everett Millet did paint a picture in the London carpentry workshop, where it was easy to find mountains of chips, a rough desktop, the necessary set of tools. The carpenter himself, the master of the mattress, the father, the cousin, the daughter-in-law and the son of a friend posed for him — no professional models. The artist needed to buy a pair of sheep heads from a butcher in order to accurately and truthfully write the herd outside the workshop walls. The main goal, idea, mission is to write, without departing a single step from what you see, from nature and truth. For the middle of the XIX century in Victorian England, such a presentation of the classical biblical scene was too straightforward and radical.

The general panic and feeling of an inexplicable threat were so strong that Queen Victoria herself ordered that the picture be removed from the exhibition and brought to her for examination. Something inexorably changed in the art of England with this work, there was an irreversible turning point, after which reliable pictorial soil would collapse, trampled and strengthened over the centuries. This stable soil was safe and familiar, but, unfortunately, absolutely barren and lifeless: from year to year, traditionally idealized heroes appeared in exhibitions of the Royal Academy in a relatively beautiful landscape. And then a boy in a shirt, dirty heels, muscular arms, wrinkled weathered faces, a doorway from a barely hewn log, trash on the floor.

It is hard to believe this, but Millet found a defender seriously competing in terms of influencing public opinion with the author of the Post-Death Notes of the Pickwick Club. It was John Ruskin, art critic and writer, thanks to whom Millet will be the youngest member of the Royal Academy after 3 years.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
John Everett Millais. Christ in his parents' house
Christ in his parents' house
John Everett Millais
1850, 86.4×139.7 cm
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Today in the souvenir shop of the Tate Gallery, where the picture is stored, the image of Ophelia on postcards is the most popular purchase among tourists. A person who had never heard of the Pre-Raphaelites and of the author of the painting, had to see Ophelia somewhere. John Everett Millet was 19 years old when he withDante Gabriel Rosseti andHolman Hunt founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and 22 years old when he wrote Ophelia.

5 months in a row, every day, while it was light, Millet came to the bank of the Hogsmill River and painted the landscape - it was decided to start with it. The summer passed, flies raged and interfered with work, the days became shorter, some flowers bloomed and others bloomed. By November, it had become so cold that the artist had to put together something like a hut thatched with straw - and shelter there from the wind. Buttercups, poppies, forget-me-nots, chamomiles, cornflowers, nettles, camelvines, pansies, violets, weeping willows, irises - it was so important to convey with scientific accuracy the slightest nuances of green shades, the structure of the flower and leaves, the characteristics of each species.

Son Millet wrote that a London-based botanist, instead of going out of town, led students to Ophelia to study plants that were so generously and precisely written on the banks of Hogsmill.
This accuracy of study and the meticulousness of the performance, which made such an incredible favor to the London botanists, was the main principle for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Millet, as one of its three founders. Moreover, defiant and revolutionary for its time. Because it was impossible to make out in the paintings taken in the 1850s at the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, not only the species of flowers, but even trees. Dull, relatively beautiful, faceless landscapes, covered with dark noble yellowness - on the one hand. Powerful, rich painting Turnerwho wrote and thought with elements, without sorting grass and flowers - on the other. Pre-Raphaelites declare that one must follow nature unquestioningly, without ignoring anything, noticing everything. And ready to devote themselves to being devoured by mosquitoes and to shake from the November wind to cope with this task - no warm studio with a burning hearth will replace this opportunity to peer and study.

By the way, a tube for paint was invented only 10 years ago - and it has not yet gained wide distribution. So on the bank of the river Millet carried with him the paint, packed in a pig bladder. The landscape was completed only in November - and in the center of the canvas remained an approximate silhouette of Ophelia herself, which was still only imaginary.

Needless to say, pre-Raphaelite artists not only wrote the nature of the British river coasts, without distorting and not losing sight of the smallest details - in the depiction of a man they also abandoned conventionality. Posing must necessarily model. In this quest for accuracy, they reached the point that they chose the size of the canvases so as to transmit objects in full size. It was unlikely that even the most eminent and wealthy artist could find a model that would agree to lie motionless in an icy November creek. What to say about the recent graduate of the Academy of Art. Elizabeth Siddal, a former hat store saleswoman, and now the favorite Pre-Raphaelite muse, has agreed to pose in the bath. So that the girl did not freeze during the session, oil lamps were installed under the bath - this allowed keeping the water at least a little warm.

Once Millet got so carried away that he didn’t notice how the lamps went out - Elizabeth caught pneumonia and almost died, and the artist then received a request from the girl’s father to pay all medical bills. Fortunately, he had money - Ophelia was immediately bought by art dealer Henry Farrell after the exhibition at the Academy of Arts.

Hamlet’s unhappy sweetheart, distraught by grief and committing suicide, will now appear more often than that. No one before Millet wrote it at this terrible moment - a second before dying, taking the last breath. When the picture participated in the big Mille exhibition in Japan, the curators did not choose Ophelia for promotional materials and posters - they were afraid that her enchanting beauty and power would cause suicide among young girls.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
John Everett Millais. Ophelia
John Everett Millais
1852, 76.2×111.8 cm
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