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“The Beloved” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"The Beloved" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“The Beloved” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“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.

Rossetti visited Manet while working on this painting, and the controversial painting Olympia by Édouard Manet influenced this composition. 

Commentators suggest that Rossetti is celebrating beauty and diversity. Others see it as imposing white standards of beauty, positioning the bride as superior due to the color of her skin.

The bride’s head-dress is Peruvian, and the gown is Japanese. The exotic dresses of the bride and her attendees frame the face of the bride. The Bride dominants the center of the composition.

Rossetti finished this painting in 1866, but like several other paintings, he continued to make changes to it throughout his life.

Song of Solomon

This painting illustrates the Song of Solomon. Two passages from the Song of Solomon are inscribed on the picture’s gilded frame:

“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” (2:16)

and

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:  (1:2)

The Song of Solomon is one of the books of the Old Testament. It is unique within the Bible as it is not primarily about religious law, nor does it teach or explore wisdom like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.

Instead, it celebrates love, expressed in the voices of two lovers and their joy. Each desiring the other and rejoicing in intimacy. The women of Jerusalem form a chorus to the lovers, functioning as an audience whose participation facilitates the participation of the reader.

My Beloved is Mine, and I am His –  Hymn

“My Beloved is mine, and I am His,
His banner over me is love;
He brought me to His banqueting table…
He lifted me up into heavenly places…
My Beloved is mine, and I am His…”

For thy Love is better than Wine

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is more delightful than wine.
The fragrance of your perfume is pleasing;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the maidens adore you.”

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.

Rossetti’s art is characterized by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. 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 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.

The Beloved

  • Title:                   The Beloved
  • Artist:                 Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Date:                  1865
  • Medium:            Oil on canvas
  • Style:                  Pre-Raphaelite
  • Dimensions:       Height: 80 cm (31.4 in); Width: 76 cm (29.9 in)
  • Museum:            Tate Britain

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Virtual Tour of Pre-Raphaelite Artists

John Everett Millais

William Holman Hunt

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

John William Waterhouse

Marie Spartali Stillman

Ford Madox Brown

Henry Holiday

Quotes about 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

~~~

“History has remembered the kings and warriors because they destroyed; art has remembered the people because they created.”
– William Morris

~~~

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

~~~

“If you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art’.
– William Morris

~~~

“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 favor 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

~~~

“The term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ is in danger of becoming one of the most misused tags in art history.”
– Christopher Wood

~~~

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

~~~


Photo Credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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