Sunday, 8 September 2013

Happy PRB Day! Your Fannys Revealed!

Happy Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Day (or #PRBDay) to you all!  Back at the end of July I asked you to nominate your favourite images of Fanny Cornforth in oil, pencil and pastel.  The results are in...

Your favourite pencil, pen and ink image is.....

Sketch for The Blue Bower (1863-5)
I must agree that this is a gorgeous sketch for a stunning picture.  There is a power in her face and the tall pillar of her neck which always makes me feel that Fanny was never a passive victim of Rossetti's whims.  He may of messed her about, Lord knows he did, but she gave as good as she could and the amount of trouble she caused is testament to how well she did at pushing herself forward.

Your favourite pastel is actually a tie!  How exciting!  It is a very difficult choice because Rossetti's pastels are all special, so I can see how so many of you liked the same two...

Fair Rosamund (1861)
Woman with a Fan (1870)
People liked the sexuality of Fair Rosamund, that blushed skin and look of longing.  She gazes out with the dejection of absence until her lover arrives.  Naked shoulders enhance the rawness of the image, less fussy than the finished oil but loaded with the sexual promise of illicit love.

Woman with a Fan was mentioned as a favourite because Fanny looks like she means business.  She had been put aside by her lover, but he could not entirely let her go.  This is one of the final set of pictures Rossetti drew of Fanny, during his endless oils of Jane Morris and Alexa Wilding.  They are a surprise: Fanny's days of modelling for him were over by this point, but looking at her face, you know she wasn't going to go quietly.

So finally, what oil did you choose?

Bocca Baciata (1859)
I was delighted to find that you voted for 'the kissed mouth' because it is my favourite too, obviously.  Right back at the beginning, when things were going so well, a saucy girl posed for a painting that would define not only her but a powerful period in her lover's career.  Rossetti's oils of women grew from this painting, his imagery of beautiful, powerful women as icons of desirability sprung from Fanny and her kissed lips that renewed themselves like the moon.  Did Boyce kiss the image like it was suggested he did?  Did Fanny refer to the flowers behind her as 'merry-goes'?  Whatever the truth, this remains a keynote image for Fanny, a life changing painting for Rossetti and a riot of golden promise.

So my friends, thank you for your comments and votes!  Today should be fun, don't forget to go to Twitter to vote for your favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting using the #PRBDay on the Twitter feed @PreRaphSoc (last year Ophelia won, let's see if we can mix it up a bit this year...)

This is a very special year for the Pre-Raphaelite Society, it's their 25th anniversary and I've been a member for far longer than is decent, having joined right back in around 1999 (I was a mere child at the time, honest).  They have always been the most lovely bunch of supportive stars and I would not be here, writing this blog, without their endless enthusiasm and encouragement.  It costs £14 a year (or £10 concessions) for which you get their journal 3 times a year, the PRSUS newsletter all about American news concerning Pre-Raphaelite art, a fabulous list of lectures and trips and information on exhibitions and publications.  I'm giving a talk for them in Birmingham next year so if you want to come and see me, join up!

You can join here and I look forward to see you in October at the AGM!

Happy Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Day to you all.  I'm off to rest my aching feet after the Pre-Raphaelite pilgrimage yesterday - if you want to see my photos, they are on The Stunner's Boudoir page on Facebook.  I'll post up pictures of a few other bits later on.


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