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As the No Malarkey Black T-Shirt besides I will buy this story goes, John Everett Millais had Siddal float in a bathtub while posing as Ophelia, the ill-fated Hamlet character. With endless hours spent in cold bathwater, Siddal’s health began to fail. Her husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, also a Pre-Raphaelite painter, romanized her pallor and frailty, seeing her more as a muse than a woman. Though Siddal was also a painter, her artistic talents have been eclipsed by her representation as a doomed maiden and eventually, her own actual suicide. In Uklanski’s painting, Siddal is lying in the grass, color in her cheeks.
Wanting to reclaim Siddal’s history and those of the No Malarkey Black T-Shirt besides I will buy this other stunners, Uklanksi knew the chapel, with an untold history of its own, was the ideal setting. “The first time I went there in January—you couldn’t think of a better place,” says Uklanski. “It’s almost too good to be true the way the chapel is in ruins but is not a ruin.” There are pews wobbly with rot, 14 stained glass windows—one by Tiffany and Company—in complete disrepair, some shot out by local boys with their BB guns, graffiti scrawled on the interior brickwork, and thick paint peeling off in sheets, as Kazanjian describes it. “There’s an organ in there, and I told them, don’t touch the dust!” Kazanjian continues. “It had maybe last been dusted in the 1920s.”