Celebrating Fanny Eaton – Today’s Doodle celebrates Jamaican-British artist muse Fanny Eaton. Eaton modelled throughout the 1860s for a variety of notable English painters in work that helped redefine Victorian standards of beauty and diversity. On this day in 1874, Eaton sat for a life class at the Royal Academy of London, one of the many sessions integral to the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Fanny Eaton was born Fanny Matilda Antwistle in Surrey, Jamaica on July 13, 1835. She moved with her mother to Britain during the 1840s, towards the beginning of the Victorian Era. In her 20s, she began modelling for portrait painters at the Royal Academy of London, and she soon captured the attention of a secret society of rising young artists called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Eaton made her public debut in Simeon Soloman’s painting The Mother of Moses, which was exhibited in 1860 at the Royal Academy. Over the following decade, she was featured by a variety of prominent Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and Rebecca Soloman. The group held Eaton up as a model of ideal beauty and featured her centrally at a time when Black individuals were significantly underrepresented, and often negatively represented, in Victorian art.
Eaton’s modeling career lasted through much of the decade, and Millais’ 1867 work Jephthah is believed to feature her last known appearance in a painting.
Thank you Fanny Eaton, for helping move artistic inclusion forward.
Doodler Q&A with Sophie Diao
Today’s Doodle art was created by Doodler Sophie Diao. Below, she shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle:
Q: When did you first learn about Fanny Eaton?
A: I learned about her earlier this year when I was assigned to work on this Doodle. Upon researching more about her life, I was amazed to discover how frequently she was featured in the work of Pre-Raphaelite painters!
Q: What was your creative approach for this Doodle? Why did you choose this approach?
A: I began by sketching a couple of different directions: one as more of a charcoal/pencil study that an artist may have made from Fanny, and another that would be more of a finished, full painting with the lushness of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. So many studies of Fanny focus on her remarkable profile, so I also decided to focus on this in the final Doodle..
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: The “Google” letters are inspired by the illuminated manuscripts created by the Pre-Raphaelites (who were in turn inspired by tomes from the Middle Ages). I also drew inspiration from the many sketches and paintings created by the Pre-Raphaelites based on Fanny Eaton. A great example is Joanna Boyce Wells’ study of Fanny Eaton, though unlike Wells’ study I opted to leave her hair and ears unadorned as though she were sitting casually in the artist’s studio. The color palette and flowers were drawn from the intense, dramatic lushness that marks the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from this Doodle?
A: Inspiration and beauty!
Early drafts of the Doodle below
You can find more about Celebrating Fanny Eaton on the official Google Doodle Page