A Woman to Know: Jane Morris Burden

Beauty like hers is genius. — Dante Gabriel Rosetti

(image via The National Portrait Gallery)


She lives on as Isolde in her tower, as Ophelia in the bath, as the goddess Astarte swathed in robes. Jane dedicated her life to studying the arts and crafts movement -- her embroidery was beloved by contemporary textile artists for her pioneering technique and meticulous weaves -- but today she's remembered in paintings as the sitter for her lovers, William Morris and Dante Rosetti.

Jane's delicate cupid's bow and curly mane of dark hair besotted 19th century gallery audiences. She joined an exclusive club of pre-Raphaelite artists and their muses. With each new painting depicting her as an ancient priestess or tragic heroine, Jane made more and more progress on her embroidery work. Some paintings even show her stitching as she sits for a portrait, as Rosetti carefully details her hair or her costume.

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