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Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828-1882) was an English poet, painter, and designer. He was a cofounder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English painters and poets who hoped to bring to their art the richness and purity of the medieval period.

The son of the exiled Italian patriot and scholar Gabriele Rossetti and a brother of the poet Christina Rossetti, Dante showed literary talent early, winning acclaim for his poem "The Blessed Damozel" (1847) before he was 20 years old. As a student at the Royal Academy Antique School (1845-47), he met William Holman Hunt and John Millais, with whom he launched the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848.

Rossetti's first Pre-Raphaelite paintings in oils, based on religious themes and with elements of mystical symbolism. Although he won support from John Ruskin, criticism of his paintings caused him to withdraw from public exhibitions and turn to watercolors, which could be sold privately. Subjects taken from Dante Alighieri's Vita Nuova (which Rossetti had translated into English) and Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur inspired his art in the 1850s. His visions of Arthurian romance and medieval design also inspired his new friends of this time, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

Romantic love was Rossetti's main theme in both poetry and painting. Elizabeth Siddal, whom he married in 1860, was the subject of many fine drawings, and his memory of her after she died (1862) is implicit in the "Beata Beatrix"


"Beata Beatrix (Blessed Beatrice)" (1864-70) Oil on canvas, 69.3 x 87.5 cm - 27.28 x 34.45 in. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"Proserpine" (1881-82) Oil on canvas, 39.2 x 78.7 cm - 15.43 x 30.98 in. Private collection.



"Sancta Lilias" (1874) Oil on canvas, 45.7 x 48.3 cm - 17.99 x 19.02 in. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"Dantis Amore" (1859-60) Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 74.9 cm - 32.01 x 29.49 in. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"The Beloved" (1865-66) Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 82.6 cm - 30 x 32.52 in. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"The Day Dream" (1880) Oil on canvas, 92.7 x 157.5 cm - 3' x 5' 2.01". Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.



"Lady Lilith" (1868) Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 95.3 cm - 32.01" x 3' 1.52". Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, USA.



"Girl at a Lattice" (1862) Oil on canvas, 26 x 29 cm - 10.24 x 11.42 in. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.



"How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors and Sir Percival Were Fed with the Sanc Grael; But Sir Percival's Sister Died By the Way" (1864) Watercolor, 41.9 x 29.2 cm - 16.5 x 11.5 in. Tate Gallery, London, UK.



"Beatrice, Meeting Dante at a Wedding Feast, Denies him her Salutation" (1855) Watercolor on paper, 42 x 34 cm - 16.54 x 13.39 in. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.



"Portrait of Elizabeth Siddal" (1850-65) Watercolor on paper, 24 x 33 cm - 9.45 x 12.99 in. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.



"Sir Launcelot in the Queen's Chamber" Pen and black and brown ink, 35.2 x 26.5 cm - 13.86 x 10.43 in. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK.

Text source: 'Webmuseum' (www.ibiblio.org/wm).

Related Artists:

Related Terms: Pre-Raphaelites, Realism.

"Dante Gabriel Rossetti reading proofs of Sonnets and Ballads to Theodore Watts Dunton in the drawing room at 16 Cheyne Walk, London" (1882) Henry Treffry Dunn

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