Advertisements

Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Dante’s Dream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Dante's Dream" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Dante’s Dream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Dante’s Dream” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicts Dante’s dream in which he is led to the death-bed of Beatrice Portinari, who was the object of his unfulfilled love. Dante, in black, stands rigid and paralysed 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.

The artist, Rossetti, had a lifelong passion for the works of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. This painting was inspired by Dante’s poem La Vita Nuova when Dante dreams of seeing Beatrice in death. Rossetti, in the style of the Pre-Raphaelites, created a work full of complex symbols. The symbols in this painting include:

  • The winged figure of Love who leads Dante, dressed in red, wearing the scallop shell of a pilgrim
  • The angel carries a branch of apple-blossom, a symbol of unconsummated love, plucked before it comes to fruit
  • The green clothes of Beatrice’s attendants, signifying hope
  • The canopy is laden with May-blossom, alluding to the season of Beatrice’s death
  • A view of Florence, Dante’s home is seen in the background
  • Poppies, the flower of death, cover the floor
  • Spring flowers symbolising purity
  • Red doves for love.

It is Rossetti’s largest painting, conceived early in 1848 and painted first in watercolour in 1856.

Dante

Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) was an Italian poet during the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy is considered the most famous poem of the Middle Ages and the most significant literary work in the Italian language.

Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, and his depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven inspired the larger body of Western art. Also, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme is attributed to him. In Italy, he is often referred to as “the Supreme Poet”.

Beatrice

Beatrice “Bice” di Folco Portinari (1265 – 1290) was an Italian woman who has been commonly identified as the main inspiration for Dante’s Vita Nuova and is also widely identified with the Beatrice who appears as one of his guides in the Divine Comedy. There she takes over as guide from the Latin poet Virgil because, as a pagan, Virgil cannot enter Paradise and because, being the incarnation of heavenly love, as her name implies, it is Beatrice who leads into the beatific vision.

Dante claims to have met a “Beatrice” only twice, on occasions separated by nine years but was so affected by the meetings that he carried his love for her throughout his life.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882) was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator, who founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Its sensuality and its medieval revivalism characterised Rossetti’s art. Rossetti’s personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses.

Pre-Raphaelites

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 colours 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’s Dream

  • Title:                Dante’s Dream
  • Full Title:         Dante’s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice
  • Artist:              Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Date:               1871
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Style:               Pre-Raphaelite
  • Dimensions:    216 cm × 312.4 cm (85 in × 123.0 in)
  • Museum:         Walker Art Gallery

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  • Name:                 Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti
  • Born:                   1828 – London, England
  • Died:                   1882 (aged 53) – Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England
  • Notable works:

Explore the Walker Art Gallery

Reflections

  • “The more materialistic [we] become, the more angels shall I paint. Their wings are my protest in favour of the immortality of the soul.”
    – Edward Burne-Jones
  • “I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love.” – William Morris

Quotes related to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement

~~~

“All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul, and chiefly of the soul.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“The greatest foe to art is luxury; art cannot live in its atmosphere.”
– William Morris

~~~

“Art is not a study of positive reality; it is the seeking for ideal truth.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
– William Morris

~~~

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

~~~

“Paint the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“The past is not dead; it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.”
– William Morris

~~~

“The more materialistic science becomes, the more angels shall I paint. Their wings are my protest in favour of the immortality of the soul.”
– Edward Burne-Jones

~~~

“The artist has done nothing till he has concealed himself — the art is imperfect which is visible,-the feelings are but feebly touched, if they permit us to reason on the methods of their excitement.”
– John Ruskin

~~~

“I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love.”
– William Morris

~~~

“With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on.”
– William Morris

~~~

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

~~~

“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 sees, it does not leave me yet.”
– Dante Gabriel 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

~~~

“Art is not a study of positive reality; it is the seeking for ideal truth.”
– John Ruskin

~~~


Photo Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [Public domain]

Advertisements