Ekphrastic portrait of pre-raphaelite models

  1. Małgorzata Wronka
Supervised by:
  1. Viorica Patea Director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Year of defence: 2020

  1. Jefferey Symos Chair
  2. Miriam Borham Puyal Secretary
  3. Zbigniew Bialas Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 642757 DIALNET


The thesis “Ekphrastic Portrait of Pre-Raphaelite Models” aims to juxtapose two seemingly separate subjects of ekphrasis and Pre-Raphaelite models. Ekphrasis, originally a literary term for a rhetorical device, reaches times of antiquity. However, over the course of time, it underwent the process of changes and started to refer not only to painting-poetry translations but it also expanded to interrelations between disciplines such as prose, film, theater, music, and photography. Ekphrasis, as the form of imitation achieved through different means of representation, should be seen through the differences and similarities offered by words and images. Among artists who incorporated ekphrasis in their art was the nineteenth-century Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites inspired by works of Dante, William Shakespeare, and Lord Alfred Tennyson. The Pre-Raphaelites developed a wide and diverse array of subjects that embrace religious, medieval, and pastoral painting, yet, these are the representations of women which occupy a significant part of the Brotherhood’s art. Since the public often treats models as anonymous women, or as imaginary projections of artists’ minds, I hope that with the discussion on the private lives of Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth, Jane Morris, and Alexa Wilding, I draw closer the figures of these four women. Apart from the analysis of the Brotherhood ekphrastic artworks, my study widens the scope of research and inquires if Pre-Raphaelite ekphrastic works representing imaginary, historical, and legendary heroines, comply with the biographies of the models who posed for them. The significance of this thesis is to enrich the study of Pre-Raphaelite ekphrastic representations of women which may be helpful in looking for further similarities between models and artistic characters, not only in the art of the Pre-Raphaelites but also in any other artistic creations.