Monday, 16 May 2011

Supreme Surrender - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

To all the spirits of love that wander by
Along the love-sown fallowfield of sleep
My lady lies apparent; and the deep
Calls to the deep; and no man sees but I.
The bliss so long afar, at length so nigh,
Rests there attained. 
Methinks proud Love must weep
When Fate’s control doth from his harvest reap
The sacred hour for which the years did sigh.

Taught memory long to mock desire: and lo!

Across my breast the abandoned hair doth flow,
Where one shorn tress long stirred the longing ache:
And next the heart that trembled for its sake
Lies the queen-heart in sovereign overthrow.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Millais and Sophy Gray

Sophia (Sophy) Gray was just thirteen when she posed for this painting, which has been called one of the most remarkable realist portraits of the nineteenth century.

As well as being one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Millais married Ruskin's former wife Effie Gray, who was Sophy's older sister and there is evidence that Sophy was a 'go between' for her sister, taking messages to Millais and helped her Effie elope. 

Inevitably Millais fell in love with both sisters and began drawing Sophie when she was just 10 years old. Millais wrote 'What a delightful little shrewd damsel Sophia is. I think her extremely beautiful and that she will even improve, as yet she does not seem to have the slightest idea of it herself which makes her prettier - I am afraid that ignorance cannot last long.'

Sophy became the model for many of Millais' Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Their relationship eventually became unacceptable when she twenty four and Effie sent her sister away. The trauma of the separation led to Sophy having a nervous breakdown. It was five years before she recovered enough to meet and marry Sir James Key Caird, a wealthy businessman. It was not a happy marriage and Sophy, suffering from anorexia, committed suicide nine years later in 1882. Sir John Millais was knighted in 1885 and was the first artist to be made a Baronet. He became President of the Royal Academy in 1896 but sadly died the same year.