Sunday, December 15, 2019

Pre-Raphaelite Who's Who: Alexa Wilding

Alexa Wilding (born Alice Wilding, c. 1847 - 1884) was one of the favourite models of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, featuring in some of his finest paintings of the later 1860s and 1870s. She sat for more of his finished works than any other of his more well-known muses, including Elizabeth Siddall, Jane Morris and Fanny Cornforth.

Comparatively little is known about Wilding, while Rossetti's other models, Siddall, Morris and Cornforth, are frequently written about. This is perhaps partly due to the lack of any romantic or sexual connection between the pair, which differentiates Rossetti's relationship with Wilding from those with his other muses.

In the 1881 census Alice Wilding was living at 33 Redcliffe Road, Kensington, with her two young children, Charles and Nellie Wilding. The identity of their father is not known. By this time Alexa held a position as a landlady and property-holder, a considerable achievement for a working-class woman.

Wilding was first seen by Rossetti in 1865, when she was walking one evening along the Strand. He was immediately impressed by her beauty.

In Rossetti's paintings, Wilding's elegant looks and ethereal beauty are easy to spot; the red hair, long neck, perfect Cupid's bow lips, and somewhat softer eyes compared to Lizzie Siddall's famed heavy-lidded ones.

Venus Verticordia

La bella mano

Alexa Wilding in the 1860s

La Ghirlandata

Veronica Veronese

Regina Cordium

Monna Vanna

The Bower Meadow

Lady Lilith

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