Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Your Favourite Alexa - Part 2

Thanks for all the entries so far!  Such fun!  Now, today I want you to tell me your favourite sketch or portrait Alexa appeared in.  Again, if you have a different answer than the ones I put below, send it in.  On the 9th April when the book is launched I'll do a post and include any ones I've missed, as well as the favourites.  Remember, you don't have to nominate the favourite to win a signed copy of my book, you only have to send me an email or leave a message either here or on Facebook.  Right, onwards we go!

Aspecta Medusa (1867)
There are a few Aspecta Medusa sketches but I like the hurried nature of this, Alexa appearing on a piece of paper like a vision.  I feel that Rossetti was a wizard with chalk, able to make beauty appear with only red or black and white.  I love how Alexa leans with her tumble of hair, as if she is looking beyond the paper.

Alexa Wilding (1872)
This portrait resides in the William Morris Gallery.  An interesting fact that I don't think is considered very often is that Alexa spent two summers at Kelmscott, living in the Rossetti-Morris lovenest.  She must have also met William Morris.  What sights she must have seen...

Venus Verticordia (study) (1867)
Okay, I'm not obsessed with this picture, well maybe a little bit, but here is another version of Venus Verticordia and this time it's all Alexa.  Look at the beautiful trellis behind her. It reminds me of Regina Cordium and Fair Rosamund - Alexa appears in a little box, displayed as a beautiful specimen.  I promise I'll stop talking about Venus.  Okay, one more...

Alexa Wilding, Study for Venus
Beautiful.  It is a reoccurring part that Rossetti cast Alexa in, the woman of changeable heart, the goddess who will capture your heart.  It's not out of the question that Rossetti just used Alexa as a blank canvas (excuse the pun) to play a part without feeling anything for the real woman but then maybe not.

Alexa Wilding - Study for Regina Cordium
Back to my other favourite, this is a study for Regina Cordium and look at her eyes!  I have read complaints that Alexa looks absent in Rossetti's pictures of her, the vacant, self-absorbed goddess, disinterested and beautiful in equal measure.  In this sketch, she looks like a game sort of girl you'd want around.

Alexa Wilding (1866)
Apart from the hint of blue in her eye, here is Alexa rendered in red and black from 1866, a year after Rossetti found her.  We have photographs of Alexa from this time and the big lips are definitely an invention of Rossetti's artistic imagination.

Alexa Wilding (1866)
I wonder if it is because we don't know enough about Alexa that she ends to be viewed as the poor man's Jane Morris, not helped by the fact that she entered Rossetti's life just as he rediscovered his passion for Jane.  Her reign exists at the same time as Jane's, inconveniently so for biographers who would cast Jane as the sole muse of his later years.  Somehow Alexa is there from 1865 until his death, and I would be willing to argue that if we take it that Rossetti and Alexa did not have a romantic relationship then his art cannot be used to 'prove' his relationship with Jane.  Equal intensity can be found in his visions of Alexa.

Alexa Wilding (1873)
So here are my bevy of lovely Alexas.  Choose one of these or one of your own and send me your nomination to  Alternatively, leave your suggestion below or on The Stunner's Boudoir page on Facebook.  A Curl of Copper and Pearl will be launched on 9th April with cake and much jollity.  Hurrah all round!

Join me on Friday for an extract from the book...


  1. That 1866 one looks so modern! Almost 1930s or later. Fascinating...

  2. This one is very lovely:

  3. The "Aspecta Medusa" one. No doubt.

  4. I kind of think that Rossetti and Alexa didn't have a romantic relationship because of that disinterested look. I think Rossetti would have included more passion if there had been something between them. Perhaps he found her calming after all the turmoil of Fanny and Jane and he used her as a model because he didn't have to invest as much emotional turmoil. Just a thought.

  5. Dear Kirsty
    I am a huge fan of Rossetti's drawings and usually prefer them to his finished paintings. Out of this selection, it has to be the Aspecta Medusa - just beautiful!
    Best wishes

  6. I'll go for the study for Venus. I love the sidelong look.

  7. 'Aspecta Medusa'-a wonderful portrait,and fantastic technique!

  8. "Alexa WIlding" 1873..tho i don't think that is really the title. beautifully, formally rendered head in profile tipped down. eyes gaze to low middle distance. rich blacks, resting head against right limp hand bent at wrist. line of throat back and rest of arm very thin but very specific. A masterpiece!

  9. Aspecta Medusa and the second one!

  10. The above pictures are lovely, but I really like this study for 'The Blessed Damozel' which is currently on display (until June 8th) in Manchester Art Gallery
    I think it portrays the sorrowful Beatrice in heaven so well in just the sketch with that expression even without the other elements in the finished paintings with the angels etc.


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