Elizabeth Siddal

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1855 February 6
Model: Elizabeth Siddal


◦ Marsh, The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal (1989)

◦ Marsh, The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood (1985)

◦ WMR, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 191 (no. 472).

◦ Surtees, Rossetti's Portraits of Elizabeth Siddal.

◦ Treuherz, Prettejohn, and Becker, DGR, 154 (no. 28).

Scholarly Commentary


The image of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829-1862) is perhaps the dominant figura of the first phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Until her tragic death of an overdose of laudanum, she was DGR's principal model. She inspired him to an extraordinary series of portrait drawings, and he used her image as the focus for some of his most famous and important pictures, not least of all the series of Beata Beatrix paintings he began creating the year after her death. Other PRB artists painted her as well, most famously Millais in his Ophelia (1852).

Elizabeth (or “Lizzie”, and variously nicknamed by DGR as “Guggums” and “the Sid”) became a quasi legendary figure. Different stories circulated about who first “discovered” her, about her relatively humble background, about her character and temperament, and about the exact circumstances of her death.

DGR and Elizabeth engaged themselves to each other in the early 1850s but kept postponing their marriage, which did not take place until 1860. Their life together, often troubled and always intense, was strongly shaped by a master/pupil relation. Elizabeth was not only DGR's model and lover, she became in his company and with his encouragement a poet and artist in her own right. Later in their life together DGR liked to pose her working at an easel and they collaborated on some pictures, most notably on The Quest of the Holy Grail (1852).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s472.raw.xml