Sarah Dolby. "MaryShelley". (2007). All rights reserved.

Sarah Dolby is an interesting painter from New Zeland. He had success and her works has been exhibited in New York. This is due to the high quality and imagination of her images. There are two main points in her Art: she paints mainly women and all of them have a dark aura. Because of it we are right if we say she is a gothic painter.

The image I post reflects the personal vision of Sarah Dolby about the authoress of Frankenstein novel in 19th century Mary Shelley. This interest in this female writer of the Gothic novel contributes with the two ideas I expressed before: a woman with a dark component.

It would have been easier for Sarah to take as model one of the portraits of the writer from the 19th century like the famous one made by Richard Rothwell, first exhibited in 1840, and today located in the National Portrait Gallery in London. But Sarah Dolby preferred to round 180 degrees and proposed a Mary Shelley very different: like a gothic character, as one extracted from one extracted from her dark novels. So, we can see one element to refute our theory: Mary Shelley’s head.

The head reflects the agony of the woman. It looks like a contemporary gothic girl, with an obscure make up, to reflect she is a living dead or she is a phantom: deep eye shadows, dark lipstick and pale face. Also the hairstyle is strange, not in the 19th century mood.

Her dresses are very personal too. She wears a lace shirt and grey skirt with a red cloak fastened in the arm.

There is a contradiction in this dark painting, it´s an element of contrast, there are plants growing all around Shelley’s body with several types of flowers. A natural element that surrounds a purely dark icon.

There are other elements that I cannot identify or understand. Behind the female figure, suspended in a grey sky, there are objects floating in the air. I can recognize a mirror, a little portrait and some piety illustrations. Just those piety illustrations are the element that doesn´t fit in the puzzle. I cannot understand their meaning in the painting.

Again another interesting contemporary image that reflects the spirit of the 19th century. I think that the current gothic movement has its roots in the dark 19th , one of my favourite points of study. I hope you like this intriguing painting too.


2 thoughts on “Mary Shelley by Sarah Dolby

  1. I wonder if the objects in the background are supposed to be mementos – things to remind her of her mother, her children who passed away, and even Shelley’s death. I like this painting and I think it’s a unique take on Mary Shelley but it does make me feel sad.

    1. You are right, those elements surronding Mary Shelley are mementos as you refer.
      And I can understand you feel sad because this portrait has been done from the Gothic style, that tries to give importance to dark elements.
      Thanks for your kind comment.

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