La Belle Iseult by William Morris (1858?)

This painting is by William Morris of his wife, Jane Burden Morris, in the character of a medieval lady.

On the back of this, Morris wrote, “I cannot paint you, but I love you.” Morris was not one of the premiere Pre-Raphaelite painters or artists. He was, however, a poet and epic storyteller, a craftsman, a designer, and a socialist in the larger sense of philosophy. He was a remarkable man who didn’t succeed very well in normal, human relationships, especially those with women.

This is Jane the year before she married Morris, a strange, exotic beauty spawned from the working class of Oxfords stables and seamstresses. This is Morris, the Oxford-educated thinker and poet.

 Referred to as “Topsy” by friends, he was awkward, large, and intense. Morris finally left Jane to a rather passionate love affar with his best friend while he went to Iceland in search of epic subject matter.

Really.

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