Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites, Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor

As I had mentioned before it is time to get into some of the darker Pre-Raphaelites. I figured that starting with this one that has my new favorite leading lady Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine would be perfect. Since I just finished reading "The Queen's Pawn" by Christy English, this is the best starting point to explore some of the darker, more sinister Pre-Raphaelites. Fair Rosamund is not a leading character in "The Queen's Pawn" but is briefly mentioned in Eleanor's thoughts. I would eventually love to read a book on Rosamund but at this moment nothing has peeked my interest.

"Fair Rosamund and Queen Eleanor" 1862
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones 1822-98
Pen and ink, watercolour, gouache and gum on paper

"Burn-Jones manages to convey Rosamund's very real terror as she realizes she is unable to escape. Her face, swollen as though with tears, demands sympathy from the viewer; Eleanor's face, determined and cold, only serves to create in the viewer  a dislike for he queen. The artist required the viewer to feel sympathy for the mistress, not the wife; this is in  direct opposition to the prevalent Victorian attitude. Similarly contrary is the artist's decision to clothe the king's mistress in a virginal pale gown, and his wife in witch-like black".

"Burne-Jones treated the story of Fair Rosamund several times in the early 1860s. According to legend, King Henry II created a hidden chamber for his mistress, Rosamund, at the centre of an elaborate maze. There she was discovered and murdered by her rival, Queen Eleanor. While he was a student at Oxford, Burne-Jones visited Godstowe, the presumed site of Rosamund's grave. But a fresh impetus for his group of pictures came from Swinburne's verse drama of 1860, which enacts the confrontation of Rosamund and the Queen". The Tate Gallery

I am unsure if the one below is a Pre-Raphaelite but it is by my favorite Pre-Raphaelite artist and I just could not leave it out of this post. 
"Fair Rosamund" 1917
John William Waterhouse 1849–1917(1849)(1917)
Oil on canvas

Stay tuned next Sunday for more Pre-Raphaelites and I hope you all enjoyed this one. 
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  1. In that first one Eleanor sure looks evil, doesn't she? Although I guess if I found out my husband had a mistress I would probably look like that too when I saw her!

  2. Great post and great paintings! I never feel any sympathy for Rosamund no matter what I'm reading. She just got on my bad side at some point! Lol!

  3. These painting are amazing...I have never had a lot of sympathy for Rosemund either, Robin...I am an Eleanor woman all the way. :)

    Thanks for mentioning my ladies, Lizzy, and for sharing such a great post.

  4. I'm so glad you included that Waterhouse - it's my favorite!

    The first one tells quite a story doesn't it!? Great post Liz (as always).

  5. Love the Waterhouse painting. As you mentioned, the juxtaposition of dark & light, cold & pleading in the Burne-Jones painting is interesting. Wonder why he took the sympathetic view of the mistress when it went so counter to the cultural norm.

  6. Daphne, the wrath of a scorned woman is a force to be reckoned with and I am one of those women.

    Robinbird, I have not read anything from her stance, she always is a mysterious side note. I read one myth where Eleanor BBQ her on a spit, LOL too much. I think Eleanor would have if she could have gotten away with it.

    Christy, your ladies were wonderful , I am officially an Eleanor girl now too. I really look forward to the next edition on Eleanor.

    Amy, I discovered it in a awesome book mark Arleigh sent me. I looked it up and then I had the other on my list to feature. Two lovely pieces that really I would give an arm to see in real life.
    PS Thank you!

  7. Librarypat, ha we were commenting at the same time so I came back. I think if I am not mistaken it was because he had visited where her grave once was. I guess the plae had moved him to feel compassion for the mistress.

  8. I LOVE the Watermark, I had considered making it my header when I first started my blog!

    PS. LOVE those bookmarks from Arleigh too!! :)

  9. Allie, have you got Watermark on the brain, I know you meant that you love Waterhouse. I love him too and that bookmark was to die for. Are you going to read Watermark?


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