Pre-Raphaelites in The City: Florence + The Machine + The Pre-Raphaelites

Dinah Roe

Florence + The Machine + The Pre-Raphaelites

The media enjoys describing Florence Welch of ‘Florence + The Machine’ as ‘Pre-Raphaelite’, probably because of her red hair, pale skin and tendency to brandish odd props. But for the release of her second album, Ceremonials, she told Rolling Stone that she was changing her image, seeking ‘a new type of romanticism … As opposed to the Pre-Raphaelite look of the last record.’

Florence might want to have a little chat with her album cover designer, because he or she appears to have missed that particular meeting. Granted, the wild-flowers, flowing hair and general woodsiness of the first album cover are gone. But the new album cover bears more than a passing resemblance to a very famous Dante Gabriel Rossetti photograph of his lover Fanny Cornforth posing before a mirror in his London garden. (See main image, taken by William Downey, posed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Read more about it at the Rossetti Archive) Or is my Pre-Raphaelite fixation leading me to see Pre-Raphaelitism where there is none to be found?


  1. hmm…her old look was Pre-Raphaelite damsel bangs Stevie Nicks. Her new look is the corps from a 1920s ‘who done it’ midnight dinner party. Both are fabulous.

    more Roxy than Ophelia responded at 06:17am on 01/09/2012
  2. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and is quacking….This album cover, titled “Ceremonial” for god’s sake, is completely an example of the style of the Pre-Raphs. The color palette, the reflective surface, the pale skin, the neurasthenic pose of the female with the vapors…It’s a duck!

    Kathleen R responded at 04:09am on 01/10/2012
  3. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the cover was Rossetti… I think it’s marvelous and she should be proud of it!

    Astrid H responded at 09:59am on 01/19/2012

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Pre-Raphaelites in the City

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This blog explores the thriving Victorian cities which inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, and were shaped by them in turn. While the Pre-Raphaelites produced poetry and art praising the natural world, most were born and raised in urban environments, and their work retained a cosmopolitan sensibility. Although this blog will sometimes take excursions into the countryside, its focus will remain on city life. If you want more information on images or sources, please get in touch.