Thursday, 11 February 2010

On this day...

Poet and artist Elizabeth Siddal died in 1862, at the age of 32. Siddal developed a love of poetry from a young age. It is said that this stemmed from discovering a portion of a Tennyson work on a piece of newspaper used to wrap butter. Yet at the start of her life, Siddal had not the means to pursue such a career, and instead she worked in a hat shop. It was here that she, 'a most beautiful creature with an air between dignity and sweetness', was discovered by the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, and thus she went on to become one of the famous muses in the art world.

Painted by all three, William Holman Hunt, John Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, it was arguably to Millais that she made the greatest contribution. Whilst posing for his masterpiece, 'Ophelia', she endured icy temperatures float in a bath tub, eventually contracting pneumonia for her efforts. Yet it was Rossetti that she was to marry, and as well as considering aiding his work, she began to develop her own career, even finding funding in the form of art critic John Ruskin. However, following the marriage, Siddal became depressed and addicted to laudanum, a drug that was to tragically end her life. Rossetti buried her with a manuscript of poetry, which he then later published.

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