A new exhibition titled Rossetti’s Obsession at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool gives a small insight into Jane Morris’s life away from Rossetti’s gaze. Images of Jane Morris’ explores the role of Jane Morris as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s chief muse and the embodiment of Pre-Raphaelite beauty. This exhibition brings together rarely displayed works, focusing on Rossetti’s fixation with Morris and his depiction of her as the ultimate femme-fatale.
More than 30 paintings, drawings and photographs of Morris, including a number which were used as studies for some of Rossetti’s most famous works, feature in the exhibition.
The Lady Lever Art Gallery has one of the best Pre-Raphaelite collections in the world and through these works, the exhibition aims to tell the story of the relationship between two of the movement’s chief protagonists.
Born Jane Burden, Morris came to the attention of Rossetti and the pre-Raphaelites in 1857. In 1859 she married William Morris, but shortly after began a long affair with Rossetti. Sharing a deep emotional attachment, Morris and Rossetti’s relationship was the source of many of Rossetti’s mid-to-late paintings, regarded by many as being among the best of his career.
The exhibition includes the studies ‘Pandora’ (1878), ‘La Donna della Finestra’ (1870) and ‘La Donna della Fiamma’ (1870) from this period but it is the painting ‘Proserpine’ (1882) which had the deepest resonance with the couple.
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries said: “More than 150 years since the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, this radical, vibrant movement still excites audiences today. Jane Morris as a model, muse, wife, lover and artist in her own right was at the heart of this explosive group which challenged the art establishment of the time. Her striking features, tumbling long hair and haunting stare appear in so many of Rossetti’s finest works that they have become indelibly associated with the movement.
Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool 20 June – 21 September 2014