Oil on canvas
I think this one is the most famous of the PRB and definately my favourite. I remember going to the Tate gallery in London with my art class when I was 14 and seeing this, I fell in love (she's beautiful isn't she? Jane Morris was the model) and since then I have read and seen as much PRB stuff as I could. I'm extremly lucky because I live in the south of England where there's loads of places to go see this sort of thing, Russel Coates in Bournemouth, where they have Venus Verticordum, Southampton art gallery, where they had Evelyn de Morgan's works up for a while, (my favourite of hers was the Dryad but information on her is so hard to find) and of course the Tate gallery where they have quite a few PRB works including Proserpine.
The story of Proserpine goes; King Hades of the Underworld fell in love with Proserpine/Persephone, daughter of Demeter/Enna and Zeus/Jupiter (greek, roman? I get some of them mixed up), Hades, brother of Zeus, asked if he could have her hand in marriage but kowing Demeter would object, Zeus declined. Taking things into his own hands Hades mounted his chariot and tore the ground apart and kiddnapped Proserpine as she was gathering blossoms with her friends.
Demeter was at a loss and lost interest in her role as the goddess of nature, as she searched for her daughter the world began to die, the plant world that is. When she finally found out that Hades had her in the Underworld she demanded Proserpine be returned. Not wanting to offend either god Zeus said that Proserpine could not leave Hades now because she had already eaten a pomegranet seed from the Underworld (a condition for living people going to Hades is that they must not eat anything there or they have to stay) However, Proserpine was to spend 1/3 of the year with her Husband, 1/3 with her mother and 1/3 just for herself.
The story is about the birth of the seasons when Proserpine's away from her mother Demeter allows nature to die (autumn - doh) and yada yada, you can figure the rest out, seasy :-)
Rossetti also wrote a sonnet on the painting, (maybe you can see it, top right hand corner theres a little square of latin writing):
(Afar away the light that brings cold cheer)
Unto this wall - one instant and no more
Admitted at my distant palace-door,
Afar the flowers of Enna, from this drear
Dire fruit, which tasted once, must thrall me here.
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
That chills me: and afar, how afar away,
The nights that shall be from the days that were.
Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
Strange ways in thougt, and listen for a sign:
And some heart unto some soul doth pine,
(Whose sounds mine inner sense is faith to bring
Continually together murmuring) -
"Woe's me for thee, unhappy Proserpine!"