Friday, January 11, 2013

A figure cut out of a missal

“A figure cut out of a missal—out of one of Rossetti’s or Hunt’s pictures—to say this gives a faint idea of her, because when such an image puts on flesh and blood, it is an apparition of fearful and wonderful intensity. It’s hard to say whether she’s a grand synthesis of all the Pre-Raphaelite pictures ever made—or they are a “keen analysis” of her—whether she’s an original or a copy. In either case she is a wonder. Imagine a tall lean woman in a long dress of some dead purple stuff, guiltless of hoops (or of anything else I should say), with a maze of crisp black hair, heaped in a great wavy projections on each of her temples, a thin pale face, great thick black oblique brows, joined in the middle and tucking themselves away under her hair, a mouth like the “Oriana” in our illustrated Tennyson, a long neck, without any collar, and in lieu thereof some dozen strings of outlandish beads. In fine complete.”
— Henry James in a letter to his sister, Alice

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