period: pre raphaelites

A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day depicts a pair of young lovers in an embrace. The familiar subject is given a dramatic twist because the “embrace” is in fact an attempt by the girl to get her beloved to wear a white armband, declaring his allegiance to Roman Catholicism. The young man, true to his beliefs,  gently pulls the armband off with the same hand with which he embraces the girl. The incident refers to the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572 when French Protestants (Huguenots) were massacred in Paris, leading to other massacres elsewhere in France. A small number of Protestants escaped from the city by wearing white armbands.

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ANNA MARY HOWITT 

a contemporary of holman-hunt, rossetti & woolner, she studied in munich with jane benham and studied under wilhelm von kaulbach. an illustrator for illustrated magazine of art (1853-4) and a writer for an art-student in munch (1853). associated with the langham place feminists with close friend barbara leigh smith.. and joined rossetti’s folio club. after being the critiscism of her work from john ruskin, and a rejection from the royal academy, howitt had a mental breakdown and ceased to be an active artist from 1857. practicing a new found interest in spiritualism, she was always offered critical commentary on her writing by family acquaintance, charles dickens. 

painter, writer & feminist :: an archive full of pre raphaelite women.

I walked within the vine-clad garden wall
  At even hush, as moonlight came to aid
  The waning day: and while the day decayed,
Faint shade, that solely on white flowers would fall,
Followed me; till I thought—Indeed we call
  This interval of neither shine nor shade
  Nor sleep nor toil “twilight.” Yet who essayed
To name a thing so unsubstantial?
For, wisdom, with thy boundaries limiting
God’s creatures here, art thou not foolishness—
Naming far points and knowing merely these?
What is the thing and what the nothingness?
What all this labouring change from clouds to trees,
Through light to dark, beginning, vanishing?
—  John Lucas Tupper, Twilight
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Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Jane Morris, nee Burden, who’s elegant and remarkably unique face was forever immortalized by her lover, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Though born into poverty, her “discovery” selling violets at a theater in 1857 by Rossetti and his pupil, William Morris, changed her future. Although it is believed that Jane and Rossetti had feelings for each other, Rossetti’s previous attachment to Elizabeth Siddal prevented their relationship from going further at the time, and Jane ended up marrying William Morris instead. Following Lizzy’s suicide in 1862, Rossetti and Jane began to carry on an affair. Morris, a wealthy businessman, artist and social activist, allowed them this freedom. Jane sat for many of Rossetti’s most famous and beautiful paintings, including Prosperine, The Salutation of Beatrice, and Pia de’ Tolomei. 

I went to the gallery the other day and it’s the first time I felt at peace in weeks, it always soothes my soul. Everything’s been so sad and melancholy lately, I just need to get back to myself and be outside and lie in the grass and find some sort of contentment in what I have and who I am. Things are strange right now but I’m trying to get through.