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Dante Gabriel Rossetti Artist Biography

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Despite Dante Gabriel Rossetti's reluctance to exhibit his work in public, his drawings and paintings were extremely influential. The appearance of his models particularly Janey Morris with her flowing locks, sensuous pout and beguiling eyes were to entrance the Symbolists. His medieval settings were instilled with a great sense of romanticism and this appealed to the decadent tastes of artists at the turn of the century. His work is still widely displayed and his position as one of the leading Pre-Raphaelite painter is irrefutable.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in 1828 to a distinguished family that excelled in literary endeavors. His father was an exiled Italian patriot and Dante scholar. His mother, who was half Italian and half English, was a private teacher, his sister became a poet and his brother a critic. Although, Gabriel Rossetti was divided by poetry and art as his prime concern, he chose painting as his profession but continuing to write poetry throughout his lifetime.

In 1848, with Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, they formed together the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. 'Girlhood of Mary Virgin' (1849) was the first work to bear the new movement's initials but despite receiving excellent reviews, the Brotherhood in general was harshly criticized, leading Dante Gabriel Rossetti to rarely exhibit his work again.

In 1860, Dante Gabriel Rossetti married Elisabeth Siddal who was to become the model for many of his drawings. Her pale complexion and melancholic demeanor entranced him and her face became the archetypal image of the Pre-Raphaelite style. When she died from an overdose of laudanum two years later, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was devastated and buried the bulk of his unpublished poems in her grave at Highgate Cemetery, London, though he would later have them exhumed. He painted 'Beata Beatrix' (1864) in her memory.

 In 1861, with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, together they founded ‘Morris and Co’ a furnishings and decorative arts manufacturer and retailer.

Over the last two decades of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's life, he returned to oil painting and soon found a new model in the wife of his friend William Morris, Jane Morris (born Janes Burden). But with his feelings growing ever stronger for Jane Burden and the group parted ways.

His final years were spent as a recluse, tending a range of unusual animals, and fighting a losing battle against drug and alcohol addiction and eventually died in 1882.

 "For [Rossetti], the world of the imagination and the world of natural appearance were two distinct entities not to be confused. That a self-created world of the imagination can readily become too claustrophobic and too incestuous for comfort unless its creator is far-sighted and outward-looking, did not concern him." - Brian and Judy Davis in Dante Gabriel Rossetti - An Alien Victorian.

More art prints from Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Veronica Veronese By Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Pandora By Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Venus Verticordia By Dante Gabriel Rossetti
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