Before models posed in front the camera, models were first used by which ever painter wanted have them fulfil their vision (or at least for the latest commission). Most are nameless, personal history lost and possibly even the artists themselves did not know nor care who they are. One name has endured, Elizabeth Siddal.
Considered to be the supermodel of the Pre Raphaelite art scene, she was also wife of Dante Gabriel Rosetti and sister-in-law to Christina Rossetti. She posed for many of Rossetti’s paintings including ‘Beata Beatrix’ (centre picture) which depicts Beatrice the object of Dante Alighieri desire.
Her most famous painting is the image of Hamlet’s Ophelia floating along her watery grave by John Everett Millais (just below), always remember this as I drew this for art when still in secondary school. I had no knowledge of who this was by and who this woman was, all I knew was that I felt drawn to this painting (this was before I discovered Ophelia)
Siddal suffered from ill heath and depression caused in part by Rossetti’s family not approving of her marriage to Dante. The stress caused by a miscarriage contributed to Siddal killed herself aged 32. As sad as it was that Siddal never made old bones, she is remembered it the best way. Immortalised in art, forever young, forever beautiful.