Friday, 23 December 2011

23rd December - Hanging the Mistletoe

Ahh, penultimate blogvent entry...well, I always knew what today and tomorrow's pictures were going to be (not that the rest of the month hasn't been perfectly orchestrated well in advance, obviously *cough*) and so, without anymore faffing, here is today's picture...

Hanging the Mistletoe (Christmas 1860) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Also known as The Farmer's Daughter or Tying the Mistletoe, this is the picture that made me think of doing Blogvent.  I make no secret of how much I love the work of Rossetti and this picture, painted just a year after his radical style alteration with Bocca Baciata is a prime example of why he gets my love.  Tonally, it's a riot of reds and greens, holly berries, hair, ribbons contrasting beautifully with leaves and dress. This is a picture of an archetypal Rossetti girl in a sage green dress, red of hair and big of pout, looking winsome with her arms raised. I'm sure that sounds familiar...

Marigolds (1873) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
 Fair enough, her dress is sea-blue, but her apron is sage-y.  Woman and plants were an obsession for Rossetti.  I know that in the near future I will definitely have to do a Rossetti and his plant-obsession blog, but our lass with the mistletoe is fairly obvious.  She is hoping for love and luck, backed up by the holly that surrounds her too.  My favourite story to do with holly is that it used to be tied to young girls' bedposts on Christmas Eve to keep away goblins.  Genius!  That's where I've been going wrong...

Elizabeth Siddal (1860)

Regina Cordium (1860)
This painting comes from the first Christmas of Rossetti's married life and it took me a moment to recognise the fact that it might possibly be Elizabeth Siddal as the model.  When you look at the sketches he made of her that year, she appears striking and perversely strong, despite her illness. In fact I wonder if she is wearing the same necklace in the oil as she is in the sketch?  Not only that, but the more familiar oil, Regina Cordium, shows her large, pale-lashed eyes and flame red hair to perfection.  Anyway, Rossetti is declaring his love for his wife in Hanging the Mistletoe and a wish that she be protected from evil spirits.

He made a chalk copy of Hanging the Mistletoe  for his old friend, George Boyce in 1868, again for Christmas...

I would like to think that, if only for a moment, the Rossettis, at Christmas 1860, were happy as young married couples are meant to be, and that Rossetti's public and artistic declaration of his love and protection of Elizabeth was fact rather than aspiration. 

May you all be as happy and content as you aspire to be, and I will see you tomorrow for the last door in the blogvent calendar.  Oh, before I go, here is my last mistletoe picture of the season, I promise....

Lucky Christmas indeed....


  1. I love your articles! Now I want to go and buy some mistletoe for some luck and maybe a nice unmarried man in my future (HEHEHE). Of course, any plant in my place has to be kept away from the cat, Princess Diana, the real owner of the apartment. Thanks for all your work and wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Lisa and Princess

  2. Lisa, your cat is called Princess Diana? That is fabulous! I wish you a merry Christmas and a nice unmarried man, better behaved than Rossetti! ;)

  3. Yes, that was her name when I adopted her so why change it? She really is a princess at heart. I am too feisty to put up with a man like Rossetti and there it no way he is going to live off of my income hehehe! Talent does not guarantee a happy marriage and I am too selfish to put up with someone who plays the field. I would rather stay home with Princess.

  4. Lisa, you are a sensible woman indeed :)

  5. Recently I read someone's view that the typical PreRaphaelite woman is "blank, no character at all". It made me think and unfortunately I have to agree that this is true of one or two of Rossetti's paintings. Eg if you compare this one with the one of George Goodwin Kilburn earlier in this series. Whereas you can look at Kilburn's girl and wonder what she's thinking and what the wider story is, Rossetti's girl just looks bored. It is a beautiful picture nevertherless... ON the cat naming front, I remember hearing of someone with a cat called "Clare Short" which made it quite interesting at calling in time!

  6. 'Clare Short' is a fabulous name for a cat. I like it when pets have a first and a surname. Odd and marvellous.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx