This Knee is a Royal Pain: Lady Lilith

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lilith, 1867
This Knee is a Royal Pain: Disney Princesses & Art

Greetings, loved ones. Let’s take a journey.

Disney princesses: idolized by youngsters, teenagers’ love life aspirations, adults’ worst nightmares. A never-ending nap? Talking furniture? A girl with hair long enough and strong enough to climb? A singing mermaid with red hair? A pretty maid who marries a prince? Where did Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm brothers, and the other writers get these creative ideas? Let’s take a look at some possible inspirations.

It was in Rapunzel’s name/nature to be a fan of puns.

When Lady Lilith was first painted, Dante Gabriel Rossetti used his mistress Fanny Cornforth as his model. A few years later, he changed the woman in the painting’s face to show another model’s face. However, the woman in the painting is meant to be a more modern version of Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who is known for seducing men and murdering children. In the painting, she does not have the typical Victorian corset, which exhibits her refusal to follow society's expectations. In the myth, Lilith is a powerful woman who does not allow men to control her. Her beauty attracts many men, which leads to the death of any male in her presence. The painting’s crowded, yet depthless space is shown in the mirror’s reflection of the candles and a garden. The background of the painting consists of roses, poppies, and foxgloves. The roses signify cold love, the poppy represents Lilith’s relaxed personality, and the foxgloves indicates insincerity.

With hair as long as Lilith's, clearly it needed to be brushed constantly, or it would become Tangled. The woman in the painting seems to be in a small room, perhaps located in a tower in the middle of nowhere. Although Rapunzel does not lure men to their death, she sure has the ability to. Rapunzel’s beauty and her luscious locks of hair would have gentlemen lining up, if she wasn’t hidden away. Lilith's boldness and alluring looks, along with her love for flowers are qualities Rapunzel just happens to share. Coincidence? I think not.

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