Pre-Raphaelite beauty

George Hurrel’s photo of the actress Rita Hayworth, William Morris’ pattern and pomegranate’s earrings.

Rita Hayworth was one of the most famous red hair actress in Hollywood. Dante Gabriel Rossetti like most of the Pre Raphaelite painters was fascinated by the red hair.

Pre-Raphaelism was a British artistic movement, born in the late 1840s, in London, during the Victorian era. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of three young students of the Royal Academy : William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882).
They rejected any form of academism; they wanted to come back to a form of art existing before Raphael. According to them, Medieval art was the symbol of purity and freedom. Their painting had shimmering colors and a very realistic reproduction of the nature. The characters were depicted with a great freedom.
Besides, many Pre-Raphaelite painters were fascinated by red hair. Dante Gabriel Rossetti had muses : Elizabeth Siddal, Jane Morris, Alexa Wilding and Fanny Cornforth.
Annie Miller was a model William Holman Hunt but also for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. John Everett Millais painted his wife Effie Gray.

More George Hurrel’s photo of the American actress Rita Hayworth (Lady from Shanghai, Gilda) :

I chose pomegranate earrings to refer to the myth of Proserpine which inspired the pre Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1874. Jane Morris posed as a model for this painting representing Proserpine.
In the Roman mythology, Proserpine (Persephone for the Greeks) is the daughter of Ceres (Goddess of agriculture ; Demeter for the Greeks) and Jupiter (God of the Gods ; Zeus for the Greeks). She is the wife of the God of the Underworld Pluton (Hades for the Greeks). She is the Goddess of the Underworld but also of Spring. Her attributes are wheat and pomegranate.
In the legend that Rossetti depicted, Proserpine was kidnapped by Pluto and lived without her willing in the Underworld. Her mother Ceres asked for help to Jupiter. He accepted that she could return to the earth, only if she didn’t eat anything in the Underworld. But she ate six pomegranate seeds. As a punishment, she had to live six months in the Underworld and six months on the earth (one month in the underworld for one seed eaten).
Different version using a William Morris illustration :

Leave a Reply