Monday, 31 July 2023

P R Sisters 2


ANNIE MILLER  1835-1925

The daughter of a footsoldier, Miller grew up in poverty in the back streets of Chelsea, close to Holman Hunt’s studio.  Aged 18 she posed for the figure of a remorseful ‘fallen woman’ in his The Awakening Conscience.  Hunt then paid for her to be educated in literacy and ladylike manners as a suitable wife.

During Hunt’s travels in Egypt and Syria in 1854-6 she posed for John Millais, D.G.Rossetti. Arthur Hughes, Charles Collins and others. ‘She is a good girl and behaves herself very properly’, Millais reported.

In 1859, Hunt ended their engagement on the grounds of Annie’s ‘wilfulness’ and frivolity.  He offered assisted emigration, which she rejected in favour of modelling. ‘She  looks more beautiful than ever’, noted George Boyce.

When she encountered Rossetti at the International Exhibition in 1862, she was with ‘rather a swell’ and looking very handsome.  Her escort was an officer in the Volunteer reserve forces related to Lord Ranelagh named Thomas Thompson.  He and Annie married in 1863.  With a son and a daughter the couple moved to Richmond and then the south coast, where Annie died at age 90.

Sunday, 30 July 2023

PR Sisters 1

Exhibition labels are fugitive texts.  They are also compressed and strictly informative.    It's instructive to see how they read  a few, or many, years later.  There follow those from the 2019-20 NPG exhibition

 ELIZABETH SIDDAL  1829-1862##

The London-born daughter of a Sheffield cutler and shopkeeper, she entered the Pre-Raphaelite world modelling for Walter Deverell, Holman Hunt and John Millais before becoming Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s model and muse.

Tall, slim and pale, with auburn hair, she was not considered beautiful by conventional standards, but appeared so in images like Millais’ Ophelia and Rossetti’s Beatrice.

An aspiring artist, she was the sole female exhibitor in the 1857 Pre-Raphaelite show that travelled to the US.  Inspired by the poetry of Tennyson and Browning and Scottish ballads, her watercolour works were on a small scale, suitable for illustration.

After a long engagement she and Rossetti married in 1860, becoming friends with Jane and William Morris and the Burne-Joneses.  In 1861 her daughter was stillborn, causing post-natal psychosis, and subsequent death from opiate overdose.    Later, Rossetti retrieved the poems he had placed in her coffin, explaining that ‘art was the only thing for which she felt seriously [and] had it been possible, I should have found the book on my pillow the night she was buried.’ 

Friday, 7 July 2023

Bring Winifred home to Yorkshire


Help The De Morgan Museum bring Winifred Home. 

Support the public display of a rare portrait by Evelyn De Morgan.


The De Morgan Museum is launching an urgent appeal to bring home and display this captivating portrait by celebrated Victorian female artist, Evelyn De Morgan. Depicting her young cousin, Winifred Bulwer, on one of their family holidays to Cannon Hall, this is a unique example of De Morgan’s seldom-seen portraiture

image.pngChampioning a female artist


‘Portrait of Winifred Bulwer' (1880) is a stunning oil painting by Evelyn De Morgan (1855 - 1919), one of the most prominent female artists of the Victorian period. De Morgan rose to fame despite the challenges of social convention preventing women from becoming artists. At the beginning of her career, De Morgan made no fewer than three intimate portraits of close family members. With an arresting forward gaze and obvious ease with the artist, these intriguing artworks are unlike De Morgan’s historical and mythological subjects for which she is best known.


Saving local history


This portrait has been acquired for free public display at the De Morgan Museum at Cannon Hall, Barnsley, once a stunning 16th century mansion at which both artist and sitter spent happy summers with extended family. Displaying the painting here would at once enhance the understanding of De Morgan’s full artistic range and add an important piece of local history. The portrait will be displayed alongside scrapbooks of photographs and drawings which depict Winifred playing in the grounds of Cannon Hall, an activity still enjoyed by thousands of families today.


With your help, the De Morgan Museum now has the exciting opportunity to ensure this portrait will remain on public display in perpetuity from July 2023, for all to enjoy.


Please donate


This painting has been purchased with support by Art Fund and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund who have recognised the importance of this painting for the De Morgan Museum at Cannon Hall, its audiences, and researchers.


The De Morgan Museum needs to raise £10,000 to prepare this portrait for display at its museum by Friday 21 July.


With just two weeks to reach our target, the De Morgan Foundation needs your help urgently. Please give as generously as you can: all donations, no matter how much, bring us one step closer to displaying this masterpiece for everyone to enjoy.




Associated Events

Friday 14 July, 12pm | Online Event


Learn more about the history of this beautiful painting and the artist who made it with the Director of the De Morgan Museum, Sarah Hardy, in conversation with renowned art historian and Pre-Raphaelite specialist, Jan March.


Sarah and Jan will outline De Morgan’s artistic career with a focus on her other portraits; a rare undertaking for the artist who only painted those closest to her. Sarah will also introduce the sitter, Winifred Bulwer, who was a child when her picture was painted. Much about Winifred’s life is known through scrapbooks which document her childhood family holidays at Cannon Hall, a place of importance to artist and sitter.






Thursday, 29 June 2023

Annie Miller

 a wonderful portrait drawing of Annie Miller in 1853 by Holman Hunt that's new to public gaze is being sold at Sothebys on 5 July.   the house does not allow capture  of the image, but it opens here

Monday, 19 June 2023

Art and the US Civil War


this week I am contributing to a zoom series on 19th century art  by discussing the Pictorial and Political resonances of Rossetti's painting The Beloved.  As you know, a favourite of mine.

the course is listed here, and the date/time/details are for 21 JUNE

Saturday, 10 June 2023

Young Teacher


the good news is that  Rebecca Solomon's Young Teacher, depicting two white children with their ayah or Indian nanny painted from Fanny Eaton, has finally and formally been acquired as a joint acquisition by Tate Britain and the Museum of the Home in London

Tate and Museum of the Home jointly acquire Rebecca Solomon’s A Young Teacher – Press Release | Tate

 as they say, it's a painting 'of enormous significance where the themes of race, class, faith and gender intersect', most notably in respect of the role played by women from India in sustaining the British Raj in the 19th century.

Museum of the Home and Tate jointly acquire Rebecca Solomon's A Young Teacher | Museum of the Home

It'll shortly be on view at Millbank, in re-ordered British art rooms.