Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Artist Muse

The Lady of the Willows
imbued with sensuality 
wild and mysterious 
as the moonlit groves 
of an ancient forest 
in wordless rapture 
basks in unity
with nature. 

challenge in 160 text characters 
Black chalk on paper, dated 1865, 31.5 x 34.5cm, Private collection

'Water Willow', of Jane Morris (1839-1914), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
O il on canvas, dated 1871, 33 x 26.7cm, Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R Bancroft Memorial, 1935.  This painting documents the first period Rossetti and Jane Morris spent together at Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. Rossetti made it to fit a beautiful old frame.

Jane Burden Morris (1839-1914), inspired numerous works by Rossetti and his friends, among them the painter-poet William Morris whom she would marry in 1859. Jane was a remarkable beauty, destined to play a major role in Rossetti’s idealized and symbolic portraits of “stunners”—beautiful women shown at close range in often exotic settings. 

 Pencil on paper, dated 1857, 47.6 x 33cm,
The Society of Antiquaries of London (Kelmscott Manor) 
In 1869, the American writer Henry James described her as having “a thin pale face, a pair of strange, sad, deep, dark Swinburnish eyes [a reference to the poems of the late Victorian writer Algernon Charles Swinburne], with great thick black oblique brows, joined in the middle and tucking themselves away under her hair.” Jane, the daughter of a humble stableman, was discovered by Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones in an Oxford theater. Thanks to her captivating looks, she was spared a life of poverty and a future in domestic service. Through Morris she was educated privately, mastering French and Italian as well as the piano.

Pencil on paper, dated Aug. 12 1870, 24.1 x 45.1cm, 
The Society of Antiquaries of London (Kelmscott Manor)


  1. This is wonderful to read and look at, Thanks for sharing.


  2. Love the way you've brought all these visual and verbal strands together and illuminated what I knew vaguely about the Pre-Raphaelite circle.

  3. love me some nature so just seems fitting my lady loves them as well...she did inspire some gorgeous pictures...

  4. I like this work Joanny
    thanks for sharing.

    greetings and a nice day,


  5. "Imbued with sensuality" I like that line. Thanks for playing along with the Sunday 160 and thanks for sharing your knowledge of art.

  6. Superbe coup de crayon!
    Merci de nous faire connaître cette artiste.
    Bonne soirée, Joanny!

  7. You have put in some research Joanny!
    Wonderful 160!

    Sunday Hugs xx

  8. She was a very unusual woman. I don't think someone really solved her mystery. And, as you sad, she was very sensual. Thank you for this post I have to reread a book about her.

  9. Joanny,
    this poem is beautiful, and the same with the paintings.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wishing you a nice week:)
    Greetings from,

  10. Such beautiful works of art. The first woman reminds me so much of your photo Joanny. I hope you are having a lovely Oregon kind of Sunday?

    Great new week ahead to you x Deb

  11. Great tribute to these artist and work...
    Your poem is so very sweet and fresh!

  12. she has wonderful features to sketch, a pretty woman, Loved the poem.

  13. glad to discover your blog!
    greetings from brussels

  14. I wonder how it must be flattering to be someone's muse?:)

  15. With so delicious and sensual poem muses do not think I leave at least for a while, Beautiful, and the illustrations that accompany, exquisite and very interesting. Greetings.

  16. Joanny, how are you? Hope all is well. Thank you for telling the fascinating story of Jane Morris. She was a beauty. I particularly enjoy the pencil drawings. To me they seem more real - by that I mean the person, not the ideal.

  17. Lovely. And thanks for the background material.