Friday, November 29, 2019

Pre-Raphaelite Who's Who: Jane Morris

Jane Morris (née Burden, 1839 - 1914) was an English embroiderer who became a model and muse to her husband William Morris and to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

In October 1857 she and her sister Elizabeth attended a performance of the Drury Lane Theatre Company in Oxford. Jane Burden was noticed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones, who were members of a group of artists painting the Oxford Union murals. Struck by her beauty, they asked her to model for them. Burden sat mostly for Rossetti as a model for Queen Guinevere and afterwards for William Morris, who was working on an easel painting, La Belle Iseult. During this period, Morris fell in love with Burden and they became engaged, though by her own admission she was not in love with Morris.

After her engagement, she was privately educated to become a gentleman's wife. Her keen intelligence allowed her to recreate herself. She was a voracious reader who became proficient in French and Italian and she became an accomplished pianist with a strong background in classical music. Her manners and speech became refined to an extent that contemporaries referred to her as "queenly." Later in life, she had no trouble moving in upper-class circles.

Jane married William Morris at St Michael at the Northgate in Oxford on 26 April 1859. After the marriage, the Morrises lived at Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent. While living there, they had two daughters, Jane Alice and Mary, who later edited her father's works.

In 1871, Morris and Rossetti took out a joint tenancy on Kelmscott Manor on the Gloucestershire–Oxfordshire–Wiltshire borders. William Morris went to Iceland, leaving his wife and Rossetti to furnish the house and spend the summer there. Jane Morris had become closely attached to Rossetti and became a favourite muse of his. They shared a deep emotional relationship and she inspired Rossetti to write poetry and create some of his best paintings.

Here are some of the paintings featuring Jane Morris.

Astarte Syriaca, by D. G. Rossetti

Jane Morris (The Blue Silk Dress),
by D. G. Rossetti

La donna della finestra,
by D. G. Rossetti

Pia de' Tolomei,
by D. G. Rossetti

by D. G. Rossetti

The Day Dream, by D. G. Rossetti

The Salutation of Beatrice, by D. G. Rossetti

Jane and Mary Morris

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