Mariana, a Solitary Life with Autumn Leaves

Mariana by Sir Edward Millais, 1851, Tate Modern, London.
Mariana by Sir Edward Millais, 1851, Tate Modern, London.

Mariana‘ by Sir Edward Millais, 1851. I always wonder why or how are leaves inside? Did she bring them in to better embroider them? I cannot stop wondering why the leaves on her textile and the floor? The passing of time?

Mariana entering her Autumn, then Winter. But the question remains: will she emerge like Spring, full of new life, or keep getting older and remain solitary, as we see her here?

Mariana’s blue velvet dress against the orange velvet stool are so compelling. Orange + blue are complementary on color wheel. His ability to paint such VIVID colors and the lush textures, especially of velvet, only verify the genius of Millais.

At 11, Millais was the youngest to be admitted to the Royal Academy of Art. Painted this when he was only 22.

So many engaging images in this painting.

Women related to Mariana’s lonely, solitary task of bending over for hours every day, to tediously repeat stitches. Stretching, with her hands on her waist and lower back was something women of all classes and situations could relate too. Obviously worse for the lower harder working classes.

Men thought of Mariana as sensuous. Women weren’t shown as touching themselves in any way, let alone stretching and dealing with anything personally physical.

Interesting that men and women had different interpretations of one woman’s pose!

The stained glass on top left are real, seen in Oxford. A bit of Millais, William Morris and Dante Rossetti’s personal and professional history adds to this painting. But the stained glass on the right is Millais’ creation.

The moat confuses me. Aren’t moats made of water? (Like what Trump wanted, full of snakes and alligators?)

Plus it’s hard to see, cos it’s so dark but on the right side is an altar, dark and sad. It expresses her solitary, single future. Plus her devotion to her Christian faith.

How long has she been embroidering this massive textile? It’s rolled on the right. It’s thickly embroidered, with stitches taking many months, if not years.

Finally, such a sad fate for a young woman. Her dowry lost at sea, her fiance deserting her, her retreat to this lonely corner, with her threads and needle thrust into the textile, a combination of frustration, defeat and what?.

I only discovered Sir Edward Everett Millais’ masterpiece, Mariana, in a book, summer 2019. (Considering I’ve been collecting and reading art history since I was a teen, along with the early Beatles, Stones, that was awhile ago! BUT I never stop learning and expanding my knowledge. I keep looking for and finding inspiration!) I discovered so much this summer when I dove deeply into the Pre-Raphaelites and Victorian era politics and relationships.

Fell completely in love with this luminous painting. So many meanings and symbols. (I haven’t touched upon the mouse or how Millais got it! I read in one of my many Pre-Raphaelite art history books. Google it.).

Painting based on Tennyson based on Shakespeare. Which could be said of many Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Tennyson, Keats, Shakespeare, Arthurian legends, Greek mythology, literature and history were the basis of many of their paintings. Victorians loved symbols and these topics!

Plus NATURE. They painted outdoors, although not easy in the often damp, cold British Isles. Making people stand in one place for hours in the wet, windy, overcast weather was not as pleasurable or healthy as in sunnier France, especially as you get further south to the Mediterranean.

I was inspired to write this due to a tweet from the Pre-Raphaelite Society. Plus I belong to several Facebook groups. My fave is the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. However, there are many more. Plus images on Pinterest and elsewhere. Dive in! The Pre-Raphaelites continue to inspire us in many ways!

Plus look into William Morris, responsible for many of the designs you see on walls, clothing, furniture and more. He utilized the talents of many artists, as well as talented himself. OUR modern life is enriched by the Pre-Raphaelites who DARED to stand up to tradition and become one of the first modern art movements! Prior to Impressionism by a decade! Go have fun and check them out!

#MarianaByMillais 🍁🍂🎨❤️#Shakespeare #Tennyson #Keats #ArthurianLegends #GreekMythology #PreRaphaelites #AutumnLeaves