Elizabeth Siddal

Date of birth: 1829 — Date of death: 1862

Artist. Siddal was the daughter of a Sheffield businessman, Charles Siddal and his wife, Elizabeth Eleanor Evans. Little is known about Siddal's education, but she was working at a dressmaking and millinery shop in Cranborne Alley, Leicester Square by the age of 20 where she was noticed by the artist Walter Deverell (1827-1854). She sat for members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and married Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) in 1860. Much of Rossetti's work depicts Siddal's delicate features including, for example, preparatory studies for The Return of Tibullus to Delia (1853); several of which are held by Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. Following a period of informal study with Rossetti, Siddal exhibited her own work at the Pre-Raphaelite Salon at Russell Place in 1857. This exhibition included her famous Self-Portrait (1853-4). She also assisted in the decoration of William Morris's (1834-1896) Red House. Siddal suffered from bouts of ill health throughout her life. Following the birth of a stillborn daughter in 1861, Siddal experienced post-natal depression. She committed suicide with a laudanum overdose in 1862.