videos + essays
Sleeping Beauty — but without the Kiss: Burne-Jones and the Briar Rose series
A princess falls under a spell and sleeps for a hundred years — but Burne-Jones never shows us the kiss that awakens her.
Paul Gauguin, Nevermore
Gauguin’s nude is suspended between dreams and reality— just like his imperialistic vision of Tahiti.
George Frederic Watts, The Minotaur
Inspired by a campaign to raise the age of consent, Watts harked back to the Athenian version of the Hunger Games.
Sir Frederic Leighton, Bath of Psyche
Removing nearly all references to myth, Leighton focuses on the beauty of the nude and harmonious colors.
John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott
Cursed by a spell that will kill her if she leaves her castle, this romantic redhead takes a fatal boat ride.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid
Love conquers all for the legendary King Cophetua who finds love outside of his social sphere.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine
This mythological goddess tasted the forbidden fruit and had to face the consequences; the artist could relate.
William Holman Hunt, Claudio and Isabella
A moral quandary: to save his life, Claudio asks his sister Isabella for the one thing she cannot give.
Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia
The botanical accuracy of this painting is impressive, but its production wasn’t without its challenges for Millais.