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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) was a British poet, illustrator, painter, and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.

Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for the second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement.

Sensuality and medieval revivalism characterized Rossetti’s art. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a significant precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

His father was also a poet and scholar who had emigrated from Italian to England. His family was related to The House of Rossetti, with branches of the family establishing themselves across Europe and producing numerous notable people in the arts and politics.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses.

A Virtual Tour of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Highlighta of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Lady Lilith

“Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts Lilith, who is a figure from Jewish mythology and is portrayed as an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair.

The name ‘Lilith’ is derived from the Babylonian Talmud and refers to a dangerous demon of the night. The name has been associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children.

The character is thought to have been derived from the stories of female demons in ancient Mesopotamian religion, found in the cuneiform texts of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia. Museum: Delaware Art Museum,

Dante’s Dream

“Dante’s Dream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts Dante’s dream in which he is led to the death-bed of Beatrice Portinari.

Beatrice was the object of his unfulfilled love. Dante, in black, stands rigid and paralyzed, looking towards the dying Beatrice who is lying on a bed.

Two female figures in green hold a canopy over her. An angel in red holds Dante’s hand and leans forward to kiss Beatrice. Museum: Walker Art Gallery

Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Self Portrait

Self Portrait by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts the young artist at age 18. He drew this self-portrait when he was a student at the Royal Academy.

Rossetti has captured the rebellious and romantic self-image he had of himself.

Rosetti would go on to become the founder of a new artistic and poetic movement, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Museum: National Portrait Gallery, London

The Beloved

“The Beloved” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti was inspired by the biblical “Song of Solomon.” It tells the story of a young woman preparing to marry.

The bride is depicted moving back her veil, while her eyes are fixed directly on the viewer. She is attended by four bridesmaids and an African page child, holding roses.

The bridal party all contrasts strikingly with the red hair and pale skin of the bride. They have varying shades of brunette hair and darker skin tones. This color contrast was carefully painted as a frame to the bride’s features. Museum:  Tate Britain

Bocca Baciata

“Bocca Baciata” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts a beautiful Saracen princess who, despite having relationships on numerous occasions with eight separate lovers in the space of four years, successfully presents herself to the King of the Algarve as his virgin bride.

The title means “mouth that has been kissed.” Museum: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Self Portrait

  • Title:                     Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Self Portrait
  • Artist:                   Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Date:                    1847
  • Medium:              Pencil and white chalk on paper
  • Dimensions:         20.7 × 16.8 cm (8.1 × 6.6 ″)
  • Museum:              National Portrait Gallery, London

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


The Pre-Raphaelites was a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848. The group intended to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by the artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite.” The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colors, and complex compositions of Pre-Raphaelite Italian art.

The Pre-Raphaelites focused on painting subjects from modern life, and literature often used historical costumes for accuracy. They painted directly from nature itself, as accurately as possible, and with intense attention to detail.

The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their art, and published a periodical to promote their ideas. A later, medieval influence extended the movement’s power into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse.

Exploring Pre-Raphaelite Art

Dante Gabriel Rossetti Quotes


“Sometimes thou seem’ st not as thyself alone,
But as the meaning of all things that are.”


“I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell.”


“Conception, my boy, fundamental brain work, is what makes all the difference in art.”


“Love, which is quickly kindled in the gentle heart,
seized this man for the fair form that was taken from me,
the manner still hurts me. Love which absolves no beloved one from loving,
seized me so strongly with his charm that,
as thou seest, it does not leave me yet.”


“Your eyes smile peace.”


“Better by far, you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.”
– Christina Rossetti


“Beauty, like hers, is genius.”


“A sonnet is a moment’s monument, Memorial from the Soul’s eternity To one dead deathless hour.”


“Love is the last relay and ultimate outposts of eternity.”


“It is beautiful, the world, and life itself. I am glad I have lived.”


“Beauty without the beloved is like a sword through the heart.”


“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”


“Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell.”


“When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me.”
– Christina Rossetti


“He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;”
– Christina Rossetti


“Places that are empty of you are empty of life.”
– Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Photo Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [Public domain]

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