In any case the stunners are worth a paragraph of their own any day. Okay, more to Victorian than to modern tastes, as represented by the full bodied and fully clothed, ‘Gentle Spring’ or by the palely interesting portraits of Lizzie Siddle that Rossetti produced. The stunners ranged from modest and retiring, to erotically charged, enigmatic and brooding. Take a look at the little numbers pasted below. The erotic Danae, locked away in her brazen chamber, dreaming of the lover her father forbade her, acts her part with total lack of inhibition. Collier’s Lilith, I bet, could find her way onto the pin-up wall of any present-day works office, while the pencil sketch of Sands’s 14 year old gypsy girl shows an assured worldliness well beyond her years.

In their diverse ways, those artists and their literary friends couldn’t have functioned without their models, their muses, their erotic illusions. In their Victorian manner, they were prey to the twisted morality and spiritualism of the day. More than one had ideas of playing the modern-day Pygmalion.

Did Ruskin, have such plans for Effie Gray before she left him for Millais? In today’s world, surely, the famed critic would merit investigation for historical indiscretions committed at the home of his protégée, the young Rose la Touche. Not all the stunners were as innocent as that pale young thing. Who is to say that some of the’ stunners’ didn’t aspire to ‘cash-in on their artists’ arrogance? Jane Burdon/Morris, was by no means alone in achieving the aura of gentility. Annie Miller, did well out of her laison with Holman Hunt and Fanny Cornforth became ‘housekeeper’ for Rossetti after Siddal’s death.

Bearing all this in mind, Rosetti’s guilt-ridden reaction to Siddall’s death, and the scenes I invented between Sands and Kiomi must dwell at least in the realm of possibility.

 

 

Lilith John Collier Girl3 copy Danae01 copy

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