Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys: Part 2

Yes, boys will be boys, and when the P.R.B. was younger, they were certainly no exception. I love to hear the stories about how rowdy they were, and how they loved to laugh together. Today there are a few examples of their public exploits.

...Namely, their public admiration for women. I picture them walking the streets of London, boldly admiring the "Stunners" who might pass their way. Even the nickname they gave to these women indicated a casual slang admiration of feminine beauty. I could see Rossetti and Millais, perhaps, walking the streets and nudging each other to boldly approach a woman they might see and ask her to model for them. In their behavior, they are charmingly timeless.

I'm quite fond of both stories told about how Rossetti convinced Fanny Cornforth to model for him. There is, of course, the tale that Rossetti met her in the Strand, when she was walking by, cracking nuts between her teeth, and threw the shell at him. He was so smitten by her beauty and her bold action, that he went to ask her to model for him immediately.

The other story of their meeting, however, told by Fanny, is that she was walking in a pleasure garden, celebrating the return of Florence Nightengale, when a group of the Brothers accidentally "bumped" into her, and her pinned-up hair came tumbling down. (I can't believe it would be so easy to dislodge her hair...I could see Rossetti pulling a pin or two out on the sly in the confusion) Rossetti announced then that she was a Stunner, and asked her to pose.

The first story has a great charm to it, but I actually prefer the second. I love to think of this group of mischievious young men giving each other confidence to 'accidentally' bump into women and dislodge their hair to see it tumble down around their shoulders. Although in Victorian times, this would have been far more outrageous a thing to do, I still see it as the equivalent of a bunch of schoolboys trying to score a peek into a women's locker room or somesuch.

Those rowdy boys!

Coming soon...a charming tale from Burne-Jones' biography about what it was like to go out on the town with Topsy and Rossetti.


Margaret said...

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the second story was true--Rossetti was quite the bold one!

Both are great stories though.

Grace said...

Indeed! I could definitely see the rakish Rossetti doing such a thing :)