Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Art and Life of Dante Rossetti

Sanctas Lilias

Vision of Fiammetta

Lady of the Flame

Sybilla Palmifera

Veronica Veronese

Lady of the Window

Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti was born of Italian parents in England in 1828. He was born and raised in England, went to school there, but spoke Italian and acted quite Italian, although he never stepped foot in Italy. He was a painter and a poet.

He was an avid reader and enjoyed Dante, Shakespeare and was fascinated with Edgar Allen Poe. He was one of the seven original founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They believed in "truth to nature". They were greatly influenced by the tales of medieval life, the gods, and the idea of femme fatale. I love the way he brings nature into every painting. Each flower and plant represent something. I enjoy that kind of imagery. The other thing I love about his paintings is the hands of the women he paints. They have so much expression and movement.

I am sure you immediately recognized his work. He used the same two or three models that so many of the group used. He took it one step farther and married his favorite model Elizabeth Siddal. She was his inspiration and obsession. Unfortunately, they had a still born daughter. Elizabeth never fully recovered from the loss. She overdosed on laudanum. Dante Rossetti was devastated. He buried his new manuscript of poetry with her.

Like so many artists he channeled his grief into his work. Even after death he used her in many of his works. After Elizabeth's death his long time friend, William Morris sort of took him under his wing. They shared a studio together and Rossetti spent many a day at Morris's home with his family. It is thought that Dante Rossetti developed a crush on William Morris's wife - Jane. She begins to appear in his work along with her daughter, May, quite a bit. It is believed that Jane convinced him to dig up his wife and retrieve his poetry and have it published. Which he did. This of course was quite the talk in London. I am sure it must of helped the sale of his poetry book.

Dante Rossetti was also a laudanum user. He developed respiratory problems from the prolong use. He died in 1882. His lungs just gave out. He always hoped that he would meet Elizabeth in death as Dante had met Beatrice. She lives on through his paintings.


Patti said...

I wish I could say that I recognized his work, but my art history isn't what it should be - thanks for the lesson!

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing his story! You were right..I do recognize his work, but I wasn't familiar with him, the artist. In fact, I used one of his portraits in an ATC I made a while back. Thanks again for sharing this!

BT said...

Such beautiful women and the hair, so gorgeous. I love his use of nature too. What a sad tale of his wife and a morbid one of digging her up for his poetry!

Linda East said...

Rossetti was an incredible artist, and I think it is so awesome that you took the time to post his story. I was printing off some of your digy sheets that you had let me use for a new AB and I was just thinking about you on Monday..I can't wait to finish my book and send you some pics of the pages where I used your pics as backgrounds...they are so wonderful and I know you are going to like the way I have used them...thanks for always being an inspiration and for sharing your talent with all os us...Luv LE