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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

9 of 29 portraits of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

by George Frederic Watts
oil on linen, circa 1871
26 in. x 21 1/8 in. (661 mm x 535 mm)
Given by George Frederic Watts, 1895
Primary Collection
NPG 1011

Sitterback to top

  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Painter and poet. Sitter in 29 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 22 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Painter and sculptor; Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Artist or producer associated with 93 portraits, Sitter in 43 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait was painted in 1871 by Rossetti's friend, George Frederick Watts, and intended for Watts's large series of portraits now known as the 'Hall of Fame'. It shows a forty-three-year-old Rossetti with a pensive expression meant to express creative contemplation. At this age, he was enjoying new-found fame as a poet, having published his Poems a year before. Rossetti recalled the portrait unfavourably, however. 'My impression of it was appalling (though probably from its exact truth)', he said, 'people ever since kept telling me it was horrible.'

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Events of 1871back to top

Current affairs

Gladstone's first ministry continues with its programme of reform, with an overhaul of the civil service which is opened to public examination. The University Test Acts allow non-members of the Church of England to hold posts at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The Trade Union Act granted full legal status to trade union organisations, although the Criminal Law Amendment Act banned picketing.
The first FA Cup competition is held.

Art and science

The Penny Farthing, the first efficient bicycle, is invented by British engineer, James Starley.
The artist James Whistler paints a portrait of his mother, calling the nearly monochromatic portrait Arrangement in Grey and Black. Although now one of Whistler's most recognisable paintings, it was nearly rejected by the Royal Academy at first.


France's shock defeat against Prussia radically alters Europe's status quo, leading to the deposition of Napoleon III and the creation of France's Third Republic, as well as Germany's unification and rise in military power and imperialist ambitions, as the Prussian King William I is pronounced Emperor of Germany. Further, Germany's annexing of the French regions Alsace and Lorraine provoked bitter land disputes which contributed to the outbreak of the First World War.

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Martin Hopkinson

03 January 2017, 11:04

The Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren , an admirer of Watts, reviewed it in 'La Libre Esthetique, L'Art Moderne in one of 5 articles of March -April 1895 see his Ecrits sur l'Art (1893-1916), ed. Paul Aron , Brussels,1997, p.657