Elizabeth Siddal - tribute to a Victorian super-model
11th February 2012
There will never be a photo of an elderly Elizabeth Siddal discovered in a hidden attic. There will never be a painting or drawing of Elizabeth Siddal with thinning hair and a wrinkled brow to be found on the walls of an art gallery or museum. There will never be a nostalgic poem found in some hidden nook written by Elizabeth Siddal in her later life – some sentimental look-back at past glories or moments of vanished passion. There will be none of these, none of what so many of the other luminaries of the Pre-Raphaelite society of painters, poets and models have become prey to with the passing of time and the cruel objectivity of the photographic lens, because Elizabeth Siddal died young – she passed away exactly 150 years ago today at the age of just 32.
She will always be an image of youth and fresh imagination, therefore. We will always have Millais' Ophelia floating down stream, suspended forever between the elements of water and air, lost in her own rapture. We will always have the haunting paintings of Rossetti in which her attention is forever dissolved in the clouds of some unexpressed dream or fantasy that drifts across her otherwise impassive face. She will always be a sign and a doorway for us to a parallel world of beauty and inspiration that waits always just the other side of a very thin veil that, just now and again, is lifted by the words and colours and the music of Art.