D G Rossetti
- Category : Art-Fine-art-artist
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Small (20,35)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 2
British artist, a painter and poet, and a member of a noted family, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. "A Venetian Pastoral by Giorgione in the Louvre" was the most successful of his attempts to translate well-known paintings into verse, and his willing exploration of new artistic themes made him important figure in the history of 19th century English art.
Born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, he later rearranged his name to show his kinship with the great Italian poet. His parents were Gabriele, a Dante scholar and an exiled Italian patriot, and Frances. He and his siblings, Marie, William Michael and Christina, grew up in comfortable surroundings, and all four were fluent in both English and Italian. He received his early education at King’s College School from 1837 to 1842 but could not decide whether to pursue painting or poetry as his vocation. When he was 14 years old, he went to drawing school in Bloomsbury in central London, and then in 1845, he was accepted into the Royal Academy at F. S. Cary’s Academy of Art. After only a year, he became dissatisfied and left, with plans to study under the tutelage of Ford Madox Brown.
Rossetti was a voracious reader, primarily of romantic literature and poetry and the work of Edgar Allen Poe. In 1847, however, he discovered William Blake, the 18th century English painter-poet, who profoundly influenced him. By 1848, he had written some original verse, and with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, aimed toward linking poetry, painting and social idealism. His first two oil paintings, "The Girlhood of Mary," 1849 and "Ecce Ancilla Domini," 1850 were simple in style but elaborate in symbolism. When the latter was exhibited in 1850, it was the target of severe criticism that severely wounded Rossetti. Afterward, he refused to exhibit his work, gave up oils in favor of watercolors and began painting scenes from great poetry, something he felt allowed for greater freedom of imagination.
In 1856, the charismatic Rossetti initiated another phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, this time looking with romantic enthusiasm toward the legendary past, and much of his work from this period involved the Arthurian legend. After 1860, he began to paint again in oils, showing a command of the medium that he had not displayed previously. His subjects were languid, sensuous females, each bearing a distinctive "Pre-Raphaelite" look, done in luxuriant colors. Collectors eagerly bought the paintings, and he grew quite affluent as a result, collecting antiques and filling his gardens with animals and birds.
Rossetti was a natural master of the sonnet, and during the last few years of his life, he completed what many consider to be his finest achievement, "The House of Life," a painting that evokes the mysteries of physical and spiritual love.
During 1850, he met Elizabeth Sidal, a model; they became engaged the following year. Possibly due to her ill health or perhaps simply an unwillingness to make the final commitment, they did not marry until 1860. On 2/10/1862, she died from an overdose of laudanum, in a suspected suicide. Grief stricken by her death and heavily influenced by Dante’s idealized love for Beatrice, he buried her with the only complete manuscript of his poems. By the end of the 1860s, he was once again involved in poetry and arranged an exhumation to recover the original manuscript from her grave, and the poems were published in 1870. Although primarily well received, one journalist-critic responded with a savage attack, and Rossetti, quite superstitious by nature, was visibly distressed. Some time later, he took another of his models, Fanny Cornforth, as his mistress and housekeeper.
During the late 1860s, Rossetti suffered from headaches and eye problems. He began to take chloral mixed with whiskey in an attempt to cure his insomnia but became increasingly more depressed and paranoid. In 1872, he suffered a mental breakdown with hallucinations and was taken to Scotland. There he attempted suicide but later recovered enough to resume his painting. He became increasingly more reclusive, filled with bitterness from the attack on his poetry, and he suffered from neuralgia, a disease that caused him much pain. He died of kidney failure on 4/09/1882, Birchington-on-Sea, England.