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The Art Gene: the greats and their lovers

Love - when is it ever simple?

Leonardo da Vince, always a connoisseur of beauty, was infatuated by Salai, his lover and assistant. However Salai's noble and delicate good looks did not tally with his temperament. In time his waywardness, laziness, and descent into puffy faced lounger drove the artist to exasperation, Leonardo referring to him as

'...thief, obstinate glutton....'

It seems only fitting on Wordsworth's birthday to post a little about the poet, usually known more for his horticultural enthusiasm than for his love affairs.

Having been close friends with Coleridge for some time Wordsworth fell out with his ally after the married Coleridge became smitten with the sister of Wordsworth's wife.

So far, so unremarkable; but when Coleridge burst in on his would be inamorata he was faced with a sight that shattered him.

It would seem that the affections Mr Coleridge's had for his wife he also extended to her sister.

In secret poems Coleridge wrote about the event.

In Latin. Translated, one reads:

Why not order my own bowels stabbed with a sword,

and then pretend, William, that it does not hurt?

The highly successful - and prudish Victorian painter, G F Watts stunned society when he dcclared he was going to marry a 16 year old actress, Ellen Terry. Unfortunately the relationship was sadly doomed from the start, Ellen writing to Bernard Shaw:

'... Mr Watts kissed me in the studio - differently - not much differently, but a little. When I was alone with Mother I told her I must be married now because I was going to have a baby! And she believed me...'

Sadly the marriage failed, as did several of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's love affairs, his loss of Lizzie Siddal sending him into a black depression. Rejecting the world - and women - he retired to his house in Cheyne Walk with a different kind of company - kangaroos, lizards, wombats and a Spanish bull.

(Apologies, I can find no images of the bull or the wombat.)


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