Image of the Month: Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Proserpine

Dante Gabriel Rossetti-Proserpine (1874) (Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

This month, I re-visited a book called, That Summer by Lauren Willig and quite a few memories of reading her story beforehand and previously studying the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood came flooding back. Then it hit me, Rossetti’s Proserpine painting (1874) is among my favorites! I quickly did an on-line search and found the picture with some information. What is extraordinary is that, before the second sleep recommended via email that I might consider featuring a painting from the Pre-Raphaelites, the very weekend I read Willig’s book. Isn’t it funny how things work out sometimes?

Victorians are known for their dramatic romantic notions, take on mortality and among other things…For instance, death was on their mind quite often to say the least. How they died and the afterlife was extremely important to them. Rightly so during the 19th century both in England and America.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti often created his art based on his own experiences in life and love. In this painting, Proserpina is the queen of the underworld and the wife of Pluto. She was abducted by Pluto and her mother Ceres cast a famine on earth until her daughter was returned. The fruit Proserpina holds represents death. Anyone who ate it had to stay in the underworld for the rest of their life. Imagine that! As the story goes, Pluto made an agreement to release Proserpine back to her mother once a year.

Rossetti founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 along with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. A group of English painters, poets and art critics who showed extraordinary talent. They formed the Brotherhood that was inspired by a rejection of the essence of art that the Royal Academy, London was promoting at the time.The members included William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner. Am I leaving anyone out?

They are widely known for turning back to lavish detail (such as using props), vibrant color and complex compositions. What really stands out to me are the themes and characters drawn from of literature in history, folklore and Greek mythology. You will also find these artists believed a return to nature was paramount.

Many renown authors such as Dante, Spenser, Shakespeare, Keats and Scott inspired their art. To this day these artist’s paintings are still well-known. Many of you will be familiar with Edward Burne-Jones-The Beguiling of Merlin-which is on the book cover of Possession by A.S. Byatt. The story happens to have set in a dual time-line of 19th and 20th Century. “A novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.” There was also a movie made in 2002 based on this book starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Anne Ehl, Game of Thrones Lena Headey and other notable actors. There is a particular scene where Jennifer Anne Ehl (Christabel Lamotte) is modeling for Lena Headey’s (Blanche Glover) painting and she is in a medieval custom. Very Pre-Raphaelite feel. I highly recommend both book and movie.

One can seriously go down a rabbit hole exploring Classic Literature and Art History. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface!

See also beforethesecondsleep’s Image of the Month: Edward, the Black Prince

Stephanie Hopkins

The sources come from Wikipedia, Wikimedia (Image: Proserpine painting) the free encyclopedia and my own independent studies. The description of Possession by A.S. Byatt is from goodreads.

Be sure to take a look at January’s Image of the Month: By the Water’s Edge. I include half of a poem I have written.

Has Mixed Media Art Really Evolved that Much?

I’ve pondered about how I wanted to talk about mixed media art’s origins for quite sometime now. Which is difficult because I know I will ruffle some feathers with a few of my comments about the industry today.  

Allow me to first begin by giving a little lesson of what the craft represents. Or mediums, I should say, because mixed media art is taking different types of materials and combining them to make art. Whether it is paper, paint, wood, metal, clay, leaves, tree bark, thread, textile, plastic, and collage. Really this form of art can be made from anything. It’s combining two or more elements of materials that makes it mixed media art.

For the most part, the Art industry tells us that mixed media art began around 1912 with artists such as Picasso and Georges Braque. While I understand the art shift during that period-I’ve studied art history- these artists brought it to the forefront, the medium itself is much older than the turn of the 20th Century.

Today’s mixed media art is widely known for collage, 3-D arrangements of objects, multi-media, altered books, art tags, ATCs-which have been created much longer than one might think-and other mediums not listed.

Who are some of these leading mixed media artists today that sell supplies and their brand to create many of these wonderful art projects?

Not too long ago, scrap-booking was all the rage and many of the mixed media artists we see today, evolved their scrapbook supply business to mixed media art. Meaning, the industry changed somewhat and people started channeling their memory recording to different methods, such as altering books, making junk journals and so on… Now don’t get me wrong; people have been doing this for generations. Decades really. Actually, since ancient times. People back in the day didn’t have the volume of materials we do today and they would use what materials they had around their home and the land around them.

Inspiration is a wonderful thing and we all put our spin on the craft or add our own style to make it our own. We find solace and comfort in crafting.

It is wonderful we have so many creative people sharing their techniques they’ve learned but please don’t be fooled that they are always originals. Even the designs or supplies they use to sell are not all originals. I’ve seen many of the designs, stencils and ephemera used for sale long before they came out with them online and from other sources. I do understand and know about copyright, out of print and buying rights…but please don’t pass them off as your creations or never correct people when they say how brilliant your designs are.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire many artists in this field but I keep my eyes open and I’m aware that the true founders of the craft are originated from many civilizations long ago. I look forward to discussing further about the question of has mixed media art really evolved that much? Or the mind-set that goes into the craft-if you will.

Keep learning. Keep creating. Be you. You got this!

Stephanie Hopkins