Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pre-Raphaelite Who's Who: the Pettigrew Sisters

Lilian (also known as Lily, 1870 - 1920), Rose Amy (1872 - 1905) and Harriet Selina (also known as Bessie o Hetty, 1867 - 1953) Pettigrew were three British sisters who modelled for some of the most important painters of their time, such as John William Godward, James McNeill Whistler, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Valentine Prinsep, Theodore Roussel, Augustus John and others.

Their father was William Pettigrew, a cork cutter in Portsmouth, and their mother, Harriet Davis, a needleworker. They arrived in London in 1884 and were introduced to artists by their art-student brother.

Lily was the red-haired one. In her memoirs, Rose described her sister Lily as having 'most beautiful curly red hair, violet eyes, a beautiful mouth, classic nose, and beautifully shaped face, long neck, well set, and a most exquisite figure; in fact she was perfection!'"

Here are some of the paintings she sat for. You can find more paintings and photos here.

A Summer Rose, by John William Godward

Venus at the Bath,
by John William Godward

Venus Binding Her Hair,
by John William Godward

Idle moments, by John William Godward

Portrait of Lily Pettigrew,
by John William Godward

Rose married the musician and composer Harry Waldo Warner in 1896 and retired from modelling. More paintings and photos here.

Far away thoughts, by John William Godward

Girl on a Sofa, by Philip Wilson Steer

Portrait of Miss Rose Pettigrew,
by Philip Wilson Steer

Hetty is described by her sister Rose as having 'soft straight hair, like a burnished chestnut, glorious skin, and big hazel eyes'. She also describes her sister as having a cruel wit and in this way being Whistler's 'perfect match'. Hetty later became a sculptor and exhibited for a number of years. More paintings and photos here.

Hetty Pettigrew in Whistler's study

Study of a model, possibly Hetty Pettigrew,
by John William Godward

Waiting for the Procession,
by John William Godward

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