“The Pre-Raphaelites – Lizzie Siddal”

This is the fourth in my series about the Pre-Raphaelites.  In no particular order, the others are:-

11/9/2009: “The Pre-Raphaelites – A Soul Group”

14/10/2012: “The Pre-Raphaelites – John Ruskin”

12/1/2013: “The Pre-Raphaelites – Dante Gabriel Rossetti”

As you can see, the last one was four years ago!  But I still intend to write about them all.

“A most beautiful creature with an air between dignity and sweetness with something that exceeded modest self-respect and partook of disdainful reserve; tall, finely-formed with a lofty neck and regular yet somewhat uncommon features, greenish-blue unsparkling eyes, large perfect eyelids, brilliant complexion and a lavish heavy wealth of coppery golden hair.”

~ William Michael Rossetti

Birth Chart

Lizzie was the foremost model for the Pre-Raphaelites, and in particular Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  She had a very creative chart, with Sun/Saturn/Mars and Venus in Leo, but was disposed to depression (Sun conjunct Saturn) and ill health, so although she drew, painted and wrote poetry herself she was not able to fulfil her potential.  With 6 Fire planets and 5 Fixed planets (out of 10), she was fiery and strongwilled.  Her will danced with that of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Sun in Taurus) in what was a stormy relationship.  With the Sun conjunct Saturn in Leo and loosely trine Pluto, her Leo creativity was on the dramatic side.

Her North Node (karmic mission) was at 1 degree (the essence of) Libra, the sign of beauty, and she was the muse for Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as others in their group.  Lucinda Hawksley’s biography of Lizzie is subtitled: “The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel”.  She also had great charm.

Curiously, Venus (planet of beauty) is largely unaspected in her chart, perhaps leaving her some freedom in this respect, but as we do not have a birth time, it may be prominent on one of her angles in a full chart.

She had Jupiter sextile Uranus, The Entrepreneur Archetype, together with Uranus trine her North Node, and did have two major opportunities in her life: that of becoming the artists’ model, and the opportunity of patronage by Ruskin.  Jupiter was also trine closely Pluto in her chart, giving her great personal power.


She was linked with several of the artists of this group, but was initially introduced to them through Libran Walter Deverell who began to use her as a model.  However, it was sitting (or lying) for the painting “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais which made her famous, and launched him as the most successful of the Pre-Raphaelite painters.

The main events of Lizzie’s life are well-known, but fascinating when looked at in detail.  For the famous scene from Hamlet, Lizzie was required to lie in a bath.  Apparently, Millais’ mother devised a way of heating the bath from underneath using lamps.  Unfortunately, John Millais became so absorbed in his work that he did not notice the lamps going out.  Lizzie subsequently caught a severe cold.  According to Millais’s son (in a biography) she soon recovered, but Lucinda Hawksley notes that it was not long after that when sources reported on her ill health.  The consequence may have led to much of the tragedy of her life: the laudanum addiction, for example.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In relationship, and in art, Lizzie is primarily linked with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.  His sister Christina Rossetti wrote a poem about her eternal role as his sitter:

“In an Artist’s Studio”:

One face looks out from all his canvases,

One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:

We found her hidden just behind those screens,

That mirror gave back all her loveliness.

A queen in opal or in ruby dress,

A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,

A saint, an angel — every canvas means

The same one meaning, neither more nor less.

He feeds upon her face by day and night,

And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,

Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:

Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;

Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;

Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

~ Christina Rossetti

The ubiquitous image we have throughout his paintings is of this swan-necked red-headed icon of Pre-Raphaelite beauty.  He was devoted to her, but not faithful to her, and was constantly travelling to be by her side through her numerous health crises.  In their synastry, her Sun was opposite Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Uranus, showing his need for freedom.  Her Mercury was opposite his Mars, depicting their constant arguments (they couldn’t live with or without each other, there was so much nervous tension between them).  Her Pluto was trine his Saturn – she had a hold on him, and he recognized at some level a need for commitment.  This may have been karmic.  Her Pluto squares his Venus – a heartwrenching element of their relationship.

He did not want to marry her (partly due to the disapproval of his family), though constantly dangled the possibility before her.  Therefore their close relationship needed some sort of respectability, and he took her on ostensibly as a pupil.  She showed promise, and he was able to secure patronage for her from the art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin, champion of the Pre-Raphaelites.  From 1855 he began to provide a regular allowance for her, which he did for several years until her health broke down to the extent that she could not work, and in all honesty could not continue to take his money.  Ruskin was very fond of her, and his mother too was a champion of her art, and keen that Rossetti should marry her.  Lizzie’s work was included in many exhibitions of the time, usually the only woman included.

Eventually, after the severest of her health crises, Rossetti did marry Lizzie, on 23rd May 1860.  Psychologically, this was a big deal for him, with Pluto on his Mercury at the time and opposite his Jupiter.  Saturn was exactly conjunct Lizzie’s Venus at the time, indicating a major relationship commitment.

Her health did settle for a while after marriage, and their relationship did improve.  However, on 2nd May 1861, Elizabeth suffered a stillbirth, well into her pregnancy.  The pregnancy had progressed reasonably well despite her innate delicacy.  Chiron was square to her Jupiter at the time.  Pluto was still on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Mercury, indicating intense worry.


For many years, Lizzie had relied on laudanum to help her sleep and ease the pain of her many episodes of ill health.  It was a widespread remedy, the cannabis of its time.  The mental and physical pain of the loss of the baby increased her dependence on it.  That she may have had a predisposition to addiction may be linked with Mercury opposite Neptune (drugs) in her natal chart.

One night, they dined out with the poet Swinburne (a great pal of Lizzie’s).  Like Lizzie, he had red hair (their Marses were exactly conjunct in Leo), and they had the same sense of humour.  Their karmic connection was shown by his Nodal Axis exactly square her Sun (ruling planet). The next morning 11th February 1862, however, she was found dead of an overdose of laudanum, which was probably accidental. Neptune (drugs) was transiting her natal South Node (karma) at the time.

Exhumation of Poems

Rossetti never really recovered from the tragedy of Lizzie’s death.  Grief was mixed with guilt over his infidelity throughout most of their relationship.  In his grief, Rossetti buried a volume of his poetry with Lizzie in her casket.  A few years later in 1869, however, he realized that this poetry ought to be published, and he sought and (amazingly) obtained permission to exhume the casket, and retrieve the book of poetry.  This permission was obtained through a connection with the Home Secretary.  Rossetti’s friend Howell performed the exhumation overnight, and reported (in a possible exaggeration) that Lizzie still looked perfect and her hair had grown voluptuously.

“Severed Selves”

Two separate divided silences,
Which, brought together, would find loving voice;
Two glances which together would rejoice
In love, now lost like stars beyond dark trees;
Two hands apart whose touch alone gives ease;
Two bosoms which, heart-shrined with mutual flame,
Would, meeting in one clasp, be made the same;
Two souls, the shores wave-mocked of sundering seas:—
Such are we now. Ah! may our hope forecast
Indeed one hour again, when on this stream
Of darkened love once more the light shall gleam?—
An hour how slow to come, how quickly past,—
Which blooms and fades, and only leaves at last,
Faint as shed flowers, the attenuated dream.

~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti


“Lizzie Siddal” by Lucinda Hawksley

“Desperate Romantics” by Franny Moyle



Tuesday (9th) brings us a trine between the Sun and Pluto, good for settling deep psychological issues.  Creativity thrives through an injection of meaning.

On the same day, the True Node enters Leo, which you may register with a similar effect as on Friday 28th April:

“You may be called to a new creative project, or a leadership role, under this influence.  In international relations, power will be even more of an issue. ”

The North Node will remain in Leo for approximately eighteen months, so plenty of time to practise power issues.

Wednesday (10th) brings again that recent chestnut Mercury conjunct Uranus, by virtue of the fact that Mercury has just turned direct.  Communications should be stunningly clear and crisp.

In the evening, there is a Full Moon in Scorpio, one of the most intense Full Moons of the year.  If you want to avoid entanglements and the glare of emotional intensity, it would be a good time to practise meditation.  Set out your calmest environment for meditation, and apply its soothing qualities to your mindset and if successful to the issues of the wider world.  Don’t overextend yourself, inside or outside meditation, if you feel that you cannot handle the energies.

You may need more meditation on Thursday (11th) when Mars squares Neptune, as you may feel split over the application of your actions and physical energy in relation to your spiritual life and energies.  It may take work for them to come together, and again, meditation could help.

By the evening, you may have more mental clarity to assist you, in the shape of Mercury trine Saturn, and may be able to apply yourself to more demanding mental tasks, such as sorting out documentation.

The week ends on a high, for we have a trine between Mars and Jupiter on Friday (12th) a green light for action and enthusiasm.  Hope and optimism abound!

The week in bullet points:

  • Tuesday – profound creativity, satisfying for the soul; possible power issues
  • Wednesday – mental innovation, intense emotion
  • Thursday – confused energies; later application of mental energy
  • Friday – the green light