dante beatrix

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The many faces of Elizabeth Siddal.

Elizabeth Elinor Siddal was born on July 25, 1829, and died of a laudanum overdose on February 11, 1862. She was, for two years following a decade-long engagement, the wife of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She was a poet, an artist, and the early muse of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She is perhaps best known for being the inspiration behind Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Beata Beatrix, and the model in John Everett Millais' Ophelia.

The life of Elizabeth Siddal is one fraught with sorrow, strong emotion, illness, and misconception. Her true identity, her true face, is a mystery. Rossetti saw her as a beautiful, almost-godlike creature who provided his inspiration- as Delia, Beatrice, but never herself. Millais saw her as the tragic Ophelia and no more, to the point where he forgot to keep the water warm in the bathtub where she floated for his painting and she grew ill and nearly died. Hunt saw her as no more than a model, and repainted her face when John Ruskin thought she looked “sluttish”. But how Lizzy saw herself is more difficult to tell. How she actually was is almost impossible to see.

She died young. She lives eternally in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites.