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Saturday, November 28, 2009

You gotta know your Greek myths..... truly appreciate Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites.  I recently finished reading Desperate Romantics by Fanny Moyle (see previous post here).  Ultimately, it was a sad book that reads like an extended Vanity Fair article (e.g. lifestyles of the flawed and famous).  Two of the main protagonists, Rossetti and Ruskin, were particularly screwed-up individuals who brought nothing but grief and misery to themselves and the people closest to them.  Morris is one of the more sympathetic Pre-Raphaelites but, ultimately, his tragedy is his beautiful wife (Jane) loves another (Rossetti). 

And here is where the myths come in.....

In the pic above is one of my favorite Mythology Fandex.  (When that can't deliver, I pull out the biggies, Mythologyby Edith Hamilton and The Greek Myths: Complete Editionby Robert Graves.)   The fandex is open to the myth of Persephone illustrated by Jane Morris in Rossetti's famous painting (reproduced below).   Of course we know she's Persephone because she is holding a pomegranate (okay, I didn't really know that).  When Rossetti painted this picture of Jane she was spending summers living with Rossetti while Morris traveled---read the myth and you'll get it.

Proserpine (Persephone), 1874,
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti