Dante Gabriel Rossetti—art meets poetry

Dante Gabriel Rossetti—even his name is a work of art.

It is said that to understand him, we must first understand that although he is best remembered for his paintings, he was first and foremost a poet.

O lay your lips against your hand
And let me feel your breath through it,
While through the sense your song shall fit
The soul to understand.

Early life

Born in London to an English mother and Italian father in 1828, Rossetti’s childhood was suffused in the atmosphere of medieval Italy. As a literary scholar, his father obsessed over the works of Dante and spoke mostly Italian.

Home schooled, Rossetti often read the Bible, along with the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, and William Blake. He became fascinated with the Gothic horror stories of Edgar Allan Poe.

These influences would become a major source of artistic inspiration for Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his early twenties
Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his early twenties

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Attending preparatory art school followed by the Royal Academy, Rossetti soon grew tired of the mechanistic approach to teaching and preferred to stay at home painting what he desired.

He saw early Victorian art as trivial, sentimental and unimaginative and yearned for a return to pre-Renaissance purity of style and aim.

Feminine Beauty

Poetry and image are closely intertwined in Rossetti’s work. Appreciating female beauty through art was sacred to him. In both poetry and painting, he explored his own fantasies and conceptions about earthly and spiritual love through the theme of female beauty.

In 1850, Rossetti met Elizabeth Siddal, who would become an important model for the Pre-Raphaelite painters. First spotted by a friend in a London hat shop, she became Rossetti’s muse, passion, and eventually his wife.

Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882
Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882

When vain desire at last and vain regret
Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain,
What shall assuage the unforgotten pain
And teach the unforgetful to forget?

Join us in the Gallery as we listen to DeBussey’s La damoiselle élue—influenced by the life and work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Bocca Baciata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1859
Bocca Baciata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1859
Helen of Troy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1863
Helen of Troy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1863
Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864
Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864
The Blue Bower by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1865
The Blue Bower by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1865
Sybilla Palmifera by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1866-1870
Sybilla Palmifera by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1866-1870
Monna Vanna by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1866
Monna Vanna by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1866
Regina Cordium by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1866
Regina Cordium by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1866
Monna Rosa by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1867
Monna Rosa by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1867
The Loving Cup by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1867
The Loving Cup by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1867
A Christmas Carol by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1867
A Christmas Carol by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1867
Reverie by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1868
Reverie by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1868
Blue Silk Dress (Jane Morris)
Blue Silk Dress (Jane Morris)
Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1872
Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1872
Mariana by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1870
Mariana by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1870
The Bower Meadow by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1872
The Bower Meadow by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1872
Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1871
Pandora by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1871
Aurelia (Fazio's Mistress)
Aurelia (Fazio’s Mistress)
Snowdrops by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1873
Snowdrops by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1873
A Triple Portrait of May Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1874
A Triple Portrait of May Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1874
Damsel of the Sanct Grael by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1874
Damsel of the Sanct Grael by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1874
A Sea-Spell by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1877
A Sea-Spell by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1877
A Vision of Fiammetta by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1878
A Vision of Fiammetta by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1878
La Donna Della Finestra by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1879
La Donna Della Finestra by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1879
The Day Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1880
The Day Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1880
Mnemosyne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1881
Mnemosyne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – 1881
Joan of Arc by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882
Joan of Arc by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882

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References
Wikipedia.org
VictorianWeb.org
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

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