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Showing posts from May, 2009

Lizzie Siddal - Victorian Supermodel

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Most of us have heard Janice Dickinson nattering on and on about being called the world’s first ‘supermodel’ and how no one else deserves that title but her. But there was once another woman, during the Victorian era, which also could be said to be deserving of the title supermodel. Her name was Lizzie Siddal, and she was the face of the Pre-Raphaelite painters. You may not know her name but you know her face, floating down the river in John Everett Millais’s painting of Ophelia, or in any number of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s works. Lizzie Siddal was born Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall on July 25, 1829. Her parents were lower middle class but with pretensions to the middle class. Like Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Lizzie’s father believed that he was the rightful owner of a successful couching inn called Crossdaggers in Derbyshire. Unfortunately he spent a fortune trying to unsuccessfully prove it. Like something out of a Dickens novel, the case dragged on for years. Finally, Lizzie’s sister C

Scandalous Book Review: Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

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I was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago when I had that moment that most book lovers hate, the one where you have finished a book, and you don't have another one on deck. Fortunately I was only a few blocks away from Borders, where I picked up a copy of Stealing Athena by Karen Essex . I had wanted to read this book when it first came out but as my TBR pile keeps growing until it's almost as tall as me, the thought had languished. Thank god I had nothing to read so that I could finally get my hands on this wonderful novel. Stealing Athena is the story of two women seperated by thousands of years, Mary, Countess of Elgin and Aspasia, the mistress of Perikles, and the monument that unites them, the Parthenon in Athens. When we first meet Mary, she is 21 and a newlywed, on her way to Constantinople as her husband has just been appointed Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Mary is pregnant for the first time, alternatively excited and frightened at the adventure of a lifetime.

The Regal Twelve

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Thanks to Heather Carroll of The Duchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide for bringing attention to Alexia Sinclair's amazing series of portraits called The Regal Twelve. She honors some of the most vivacious and intriguing women in history in altered photographs that combine history, fantasy, and fashion. Marie Antoinette leads the procession as the "Extravagant Queen," along with several scandalous women who have been featured on the blog including Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, and Queen Christina of Sweden. I would love to own the complete series of these images if I won the lottery. Catherine the Great's purple dress is to die for! But then I'm also dying to own the Marie Antoinette Barbie as well. Can you imagine this as the cover for Scandalous Women if I get published? Head over here to check out the site.

Madame X: The story behind one of the world's most famous paintings

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One of the things that I am grateful for is that I live in a city with one of the world's foremost art museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although the cost is $20, it is suggested, not fixed, so tourists and residents can pay what they can afford. Since I'm broke, I pay the bare minimum. Still it is worth it to spend time in a museum that is the largest in the US, with a collection that rivals the Louvre. And one of the most visited paintings in the museum is John Singer Sargent's portrait of Madame X. Whenever I visit the museum, I always have to head over to the American wing to pay a visit. There's something about the painting that just draws you in. Perhaps it is the haughty expression of the subject's face turned in profile, or the sexiest dress ever seen on a Victorian. Seriously I had no idea that they wore dresses that erotic back then before I saw this painting. Her copper hair, her white white skin with the faint touches of red on the ears and lips,

And the Winner is.....

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And the winner of a copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is: Helen Pilz Helen, please email me off line at scandalouswoman@gmail.com with your address. Also, the winner of The Last Rose, Avon Lady Jerrica, if you could also email me at scandalouswoman@gmail.com with your address so that I can mail you your copy. Thanks, Elizabeth

Suzanne Valadon

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Recently Jelena from The Sundance Channel sent me a link to a Mother's Day post about Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938), an artists model and painter during Le Belle Epoque France. Suzanne not only was the first woman admitted to the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, she is also the mother of the painter Maurice Utrillo. The daughter of a laundress, born Marie-Clementine Valadon, Suzanne first became a circus artist at the age of fifteen, until a fall from the trapeze a year later ended her circus career. Instead, Suzanne moved to Montmartre, the center of the bohemian art world in Paris at the time, to pursue her interest in art. She worked first as an artists model, working with Toulouse-Lautrec, who gave her painting lessons in exchange. She had an affair with Renoir, and became good friends with Edgar Degas, among others. Degas encouraged her art and bought drawings and paintings from her as she pursued her career. http://www.sundancechannel.com/sunfiltered/2009/05/mothers-day-an

Scandalous Women welcomes Amanda McCabe

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Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome historical romance author Amanda McCabe to the blog today. Amanda McCabe wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen, a vast epic starring all of her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class. She's never since used algebra but her books have been nominated for many awards, including RWA's prestigious RITA award, The Romantic Times Bookreviews Reviewer's Choice Award, the Bookseller's Best, The National Reader's Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Oklahoma with a menagerie of cats, a pug, and a bossy miniature poodle, and loves dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network - even though she doesn't cook. Visit her at http://ammandamccabe.com and the riskyregencies.blogspot.com. I’m so excited to be a guest here at one of my favorite blogs, Scandalous Women! When I was in first grade, I found a book about the adventures of various Greek goddesses, an

Scandalous Women in Fiction: Irene Forsyte

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I recently watched 2002 Granada Television production of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga again to immerse myself in the world of the Victorians. I was struck again by the character of Irene Heron Forsyte, the mysterious, and aloof beauty that is at the heart of the first series. During the course of the first six episodes she manages to enchant not one but three of the Forsyte men as well as stealing the heart of Philip Bosinney, the fiance of her good friend June Forsyte. She leaves her husband Soames, which causes a scandal, that reverberates throughout the second series. Soames is never really able to get over losing Irene. Irene is certainly a Scandalous Woman but it is less about what she does than how the men in her life perceive her that makes her so Scandalous. When we first meet Irene in both the television series she is living in Bournemouth with her stepmother. Her father who was a Professor (we are not told of what) has died, leaving Irene with only 50 pounds a ye

May at Scandalous Women

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This May we are celebrating women in the Arts. Women who were either the muses of famous artists (Elizabeth Siddal), patrons of the arts (Isabella Stewart Gardner), subjects of famous paintings (Virginie Guitreau, Sargent's infamous Madame X), as well as artists themselves (Romaine Brooks). Along with guest blogger Amanda McCabe, one of the authors of the new Harlequin Historicals anthology The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, and a review of Karen Essex's Stealing Athena.