jueves, 5 de diciembre de 2013

Janey Morris, the Pre-Raphaelite muse par excellence

(*To my English readers: I apologize for every mistake. Please be aware I am a Spanish writer who translates what you have asked for).

(More English versión here)  (Versión española aquí)

She was a beautiful, strong, independent and enigmatic woman. Her name: Jane Burden (1839-1914), best known as Janey Morris. Born as the daughter of a stableman and a laundress, she became a model, in fact, the most famous Pre-Raphaelite muse.

Janey Morris as
Proserpine (Dante
Gabriel Rossetti). 
To mark the centenary of her death next January, the National Portrait Gallery of London houses a free exhibition (12 November -11 May 2014, Room 28) dedicated to her life as well as to her career. Janey, married to the poet and designer William Morris (1834-1896), was the favorite model of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), a painter who portrayed her with her distinctive long and bushy black hair. Janey was the face and body of Pandora and Proserpine among many other classical muses and mythological figures. She was also the confident and lover of the painter Rossetti, although she never got divorced. Apparently, she was afraid of losing her daughters.
 
Janey Morris became a celebrity because of her peculiar way of posing, always showing a singular grace and a direct gaze, like she was scrutinizing the surrounding world. The small exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery discovers the major milestones in her life: the interesting woman, the devoted mother and the peculiar wife is seen here in photographs taken by Frederick Hollyer in 1874.
 
 
 
 
 


Janey Morris and the Burne-Jones family
(West London, 1874).

The gallery has also gathered some portraits of her husband and her daughters (Jenny and May) and their friends Georgiana and Edward Burne-Jones. Janey 's husband and the Pre-Raphaelite painter Burne-Jones had met in their student days and later on their families became close friends. The picture above was taken in 1874 on the garden of Burne-Jones’ house in West London. Janey (second from the right) is sitting in front of her husband and between their daughters. The rest of people (from the left) are Richard Jones (the father of the painter), Margaret , Edward, Philip and Georgiana Burne-Jones.



Janey Morris in 1898.

The Pre-Raphaelite quintessential muse was a shy woman of reserved character though great hospitality and genuine sense of humor. She had a varied inner circle: from suffragists to poets, from architects to artists. This last picture is a shocking shot: Janey had already widowed and was posing in May 1898 at her home, Kelmscott Manor. In a wink to the viewer, Janey appears sitting like she used to do in her early days, mimicking the pose that made her famous.

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