Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Darker Side of Pre-Raphaelites: Lucrezia Borgia

It seems like the modern worlds newest hot new obsession is the Borgia's and after a bit I research I find that not only are we newly obsessed with Lucrezia but famous Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti was also obsessed with the Borgia's too especially Lucrezia. Rossetti spent 1851-1859 working on various different works on Lucrezia and in the end he was greatly influenced by artist Algernon Swinburne.

"Here, Lucrezia Borgia is seen in the act of washing her hands--a symbolic gesture to indicate that she had just poisoned her husband. As he so often did, Rossetti has given her a thick neck and masculine-set jaw. Interestingly, her forearms are also very masculine, with prominent muscle definition. This may be due partially to Rossetti's predilection toward masculinizing women, but it is also indicative of her masculine act of murder".

It can also be said that fellow Pre-Raphaelites artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones who at this time worked closely Rossetti followed Rossetti in working on a Lucrezia piece. "Both portrayed strong women in similar physical attitudes and their clothing are extremely similar. It is likely that Rossetti began his piece first".

Though the piece below is not a Pre-Raphaelite I felt it necessary to include the piece because it brings to light some of the darker sides to the Borgia family including Lucrezia. In reality there is no official portrait of Lucrezia so we can continue to let our imaginations run wild.

"A Glass of Wine with Caesar Borgia" by John Collier

"Not so holy family: Lucrezia Borgia with father Rodrigo (Pope Alexander VI) and brother Caesare. The figure in the foreground may be a depiction of the messenger Perotto. All three men were rumored to be the father of Lucretia's first son".
Be sure and check out Showtime's new series The Borgias which premiers April 3rd at 9pm ET/PT

footer sig


  1. I love these paintings. All of them! Wow!

  2. Fabulous rendering of the material of the dress! And the face really does have a strange resemblance to that of Swinburne. Even the hair colour and style. !!

  3. It's like The Tudors all over again. I'm happy to see History becoming tv-shows instead of just movies. ^.^ I want to see it.

  4. Allison, I know I want them like tattooed all over me I could be covered in the Pre-Raphaelites and be very happy for the rest of my life with them.

    Robert, so fabulous of you to swing by since I heard your novel "The Arrow Chest" has been a huge success with your references to Victorian art. I know I guess the two are the prime example of great minds think alike. I have to admit that her man arms in Rossetti's piece creep me out a bit. She could have choked someone with arms like that.

    Carole, hehe I love the Tudors but I think this one has a different director so it will ave more of that Renaissance feel to it. I know I am so sick of just the movies thing we all want MORE HISTORY shows tv, mini series, anything that we can get.

    Mystica, glad you like them they are beautiful. I wish I would have found out how big there are. I imagine them huge!

  5. There is a story about an evening at the theatre when Rossetti took Lizzie Siddal and Swinburne together in a party that occupied the whole front row. Siddal and Swinburne both resembled each other, and had the same vast mop of bright red hair as in these paintings - and which in those days was actually considered to be unlucky by some. The two redheads sat each at opposite ends of the row, and a boy selling programs was so spooked when he saw one that he ran off along the row - only to discover another at the other end. He then said something like, 'Blimey - there's another one of em!'

  6. Robert, oh my goodness that is hilarious! My father was always the BIGGEST sucker for a red head. He would literally stop the car if he saw a red head because he said "I love me a fiery woman" so so bad but funny as heck. Thank you for sharing Robert I am rolling here.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...