Is the red-speckled beauty of Jessica Chastain tied inexorably to the 'modern' pre-Raphaelite art of Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and even J.W. Waterhouse? While they all painted decades before she was born --we assume, she keeps her age top secret -- is there a more cosmically unusual reason? Chastain doesn't really resemble photos of the source model for Rossetti and his disciples' work, Elizabeth Siddal or Waterhouse's subject, his sister. But the similarity is undeniable, even more so in terms of a metaphysical androgyne embowerment than actual facial similarity.
|from top: Burne-Jones, Liebovitz, Waterhouse, Burne-Jones, Bigelow|
Maybe it's a happy coincidence and not a case of time travel or immortality? It took awhile for me to place the aching feeling in my heart when I saw her in TREE OF LIFE -- it helped I was going through some serious stuff while viewing it (as I've written) but I could see the cells of sunlight coming off of her face and pale arms in some of the close-ups, see the auric stamp of her DNA's designer, feel her timeless maternal pull - luring me across the expanse of a solid century or so like Pinocchio on a slowly retracting umbilical puppet string.
Is it just a happy coincidence? I'm looking forward to ZERO DARK THIRTY to find out. I notice JC's in about 400 films this year and yet also finds time for a Broadway play. How does she keep so busy and yet look so good? Is she a living reincarnation of, not Siddal or Waterhouse's half-sister Mary, but their actual paintings. As a painter myself I know the girl I'm most thinking about while painting ---the who has come to represent my inner female spirit or anima in that instance, as she does as the mood suits her-- usually appears in the face of whomever I'm supposed to be painting. So perhaps Waterhouse, at least, coming a few decades after the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood could sense Chastain's unborn beauty somewhere deep inside the anima mundi and took it on as a new coat, and as a result his beauties are a cross between sister Mary, laudanum Siddal and etheric anima Jessica?
I believe these things are, if not real, then true. If not true, then more 'real' than truth, for in the world of true artistic expression, time and space and dreams and palette all merge together as one force impossible to measure with anything like clocks, or calendars, or miles or inches. Only the finished work, as it accumulates and is dropped into the museums and Facebook pages of time will tell the tale. She's a vegan. She's a warrior. Chastain is over 100 years old!
Postscript - March 16th, 2014 - I found this and the above amazing Liebovitz Vogue photos while updating this piece based on new/old information! Time really does move oddly - Not sure if her photo came out after this post, though I'm sure neither of us are the first to link Chastain with the Pre-Raphaelites. Though I did a google search before posting this originally and found nothing. Still, Ms. Liebovitz what's with her horrifyingly un-Pre-Raphaelite shot hair!?