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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Painter and poet

Painter and poet; born 12 May 1828, in London, son of Italian exile and Dante scholar Gabriele Rossetti and brother to Maria, William Michael and Christina Rossetti. Trained at Royal Academy Schools and with Ford Madox Brown; with William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and others founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (first exhibits 1849) and contributed poetry and prose to The Germ (1850); after early success with Girlhood of Mary Virgin (Free Exh., Hyde Park Corner, 1849; Tate) and Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Portland G., 1850; Tate) largely ceased competitive exhibition, but gained reputation for quaint medieval subjects, followed in 1860s by Venetian-mode half-length female figures and in late 1870s by proto-Symbolist works; best known today for Beata Beatrix (1870, Tate) and Proserpine (1874, Tate); published translations from early Italian poets (1861) and original Poems (1870 and 1881), which in his lifetime were more widely known and admired than his pictures; serious mental disorder 1872 and declining health thereafter; died 9 April 1882, at Birchington, Kent.

He was recalled by a fellow-student as

a young man of decidedly foreign aspect, about 5 feet 7 1/4 in height … not taking care to walk erect but rolling carelessly as he slouched along … staring with dreaming eyes – the pupils not reaching the bottom lids – grey eyes, not looking directly at any point, but gazing listlessly about; the openings large and oval, the lower orbits dark-coloured. His nose was aquiline but delicate, with a depression from the frontal sinus shaping the bridge; the nostrils full, the brow rounded and prominent and the line of the jaw angular and marked…[1]

In later life, he grew corpulent. His youthful personality was vehement and headstrong, yet also courteous, generous and sociable; with the breakdown in health he became increasingly reclusive and paranoid.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) William Holman Hunt, writing in 1886; quoted Rossetti 1895, vol.1, p.95.

Referencesback to top

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Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, London, 1922.

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Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, [London, 1922] repr. with additions, New Haven and London, 1987.

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Bryson 1976
Bryson, J., ed., Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris: Their Correspondence, Oxford, 1976.

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Bullen, J.B., ‘Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828–1882)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

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Caine, T.H.H., Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, London, 1928.

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Doughty, O., A Victorian Romantic: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, London, 1949.

Douglas 1904
Douglas, J., Theodore Watts-Dunton: Poet, Novelist, Critic, London, 1904.

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Henry Treffry Dunn: Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and His Circle, ed. R. Mander (enlarged ed. of work first published 1904, ed. G. Pedrick).

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Faxon, A.C., Rossetti, New York and Oxford, 1989.

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Fredeman, W.E., The P.R.B. Journal: William Michael Rossetti’s Diary of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 1849–1853, together with other Pre-Raphaelite documents, Oxford, 1975.

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Fredeman, W.E., A Rossetti Cabinet: A Portfolio of Drawings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ian Hodgkins & Co., Stroud, Glos., 1991.

Fredeman 2002–10
Fredeman, W.E., ed., The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 9 vols, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002–10.

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Hall 1997
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Hall 2002
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Harrison 1997–2004
Harrison, A.H., ed., The Letters of Christina Rossetti, 4 vols, Charlottesville, VA, and London, 1997–2004.

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Mancoff 2000
Mancoff, D.N., Jane Morris: The Pre-Raphaelite Model of Beauty, San Francisco, 2000.

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Marillier, H.C., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An Illustrated Memorial of his Art and Life, London, 1899 [abridged and rev. ed., 1901].

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Marsh 1998b
Marsh, J., ‘Rupes Topseia: A New Suggestion’, Journal of William Morris Society, vol.12, no.4, Spring 1998, pp.3–6.

Marsh 1999
Marsh, J., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Painter and Poet, London, 1999.

Marsh 2005a
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Rossetti, W.M., ‘The Portraits of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, Magazine of Art, 1889, three parts, pp.21–6, 57–61, 138–40.

Rossetti 1889b
Rossetti, W.M., Dante Gabriel Rossetti as Designer and Writer, London, 1889.

Rossetti 1895
Rossetti, W.M., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family-Letters with a Memoir, 2 vols, London, 1895.

Rossetti 1908
Rossetti, W.M., ed., The Family Letters of Christina Georgina Rossetti, London, 1908.

Rossetti 1973
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Painter and Poet, exh. cat., Royal Academy, London, 1973.

Rossetti Archive
The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed. J.J. McGann, hypermedia archive

Schleinitz 1907
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Spencer-Longhurst, P., The Blue Bower: Rossetti in the 1860s, exh. cat., Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, and Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, 2001.

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