Susan Owens at Literary Review:
‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ takes the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, fades out the central figures and asks those previously known for their supporting or peripheral roles to step forward. It pays attention to models such as Fanny Cornforth and Annie Miller, investigates the activities of the wives of some of its leading figures, including Jane Morris, Georgiana Burne-Jones and Effie Gray Millais, and celebrates the art of such sculptors and painters as Maria Zambaco and Marie Spartali Stillman. It is, in effect, a cultural history of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in its focus on how clients were tended, studios managed, costumes stitched, parallel careers pursued, opportunities for work seized and respectability either sought or rejected. It unfolds a fascinating series of interconnected life stories.
Of the twelve women explored, each in a discrete section, some remain elusive. One of the most intriguing figures is Fanny Eaton, a black model who, as Marsh points out in the book accompanying the exhibition, has been ‘hiding in plain sight’ in paintings by Joanna Boyce Wells (another ‘sister’ represented here), Albert Moore and Simeon Solomon, who asked her to serve as a model for both African and Middle Eastern figures.