“Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand and now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand.”
In biblical text, man was created in God’s image and woman was created from parts of man – so “In An Artist’s Studio” is not very far off from this idea. For me, there are two sides to this poem. The man who see’s himself in every woman he paints and values himself more or the man who does not differentiate between his models and sees the women he paints as less than they are.
I am never sure which one triumphs over the other but regardless, women lack and identity. Even in the beginning they were not created of their own, man gave them their life. So now, for Christina Rossetti, she taps back into that beginning when men created women and were the root of who they were.
The women of this artist’s work are all different, unique, no one shares the same qualities of the other, yet they all are portray’d as the same.
“Not as she is, but she when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.”
This poem unintentionally explores a woman’s purpose in a man’s life in that last line. Woman at that time were used as a vehicle to complete a man’s life. Not a partner in making life better, but an object or possession that he must acquire in order to be deemed successful or to fill his dreams.