Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Arts and Madness Series Poets/Painters

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was a English poet and painter; son of Gabriele Rossetti and brother of Christina Rossetti. He was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1848 he became acquainted with W. Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais and with them formed the brotherhood of Pre-Raphaelites. In an effort to spread their ideas the group published in 1850 a short-lived magazine, the Germ, edited by Rossetti's brother William Michael Rossetti . In 1851, John Ruskin championed the Pre-Raphaelites, and shortly thereafter made an arrangement with Rossetti to buy all of Rossetti's paintings that pleased him; thus, Rossetti became financially solvent.

In 1860 he married his model Elizabeth Siddal, a former milliner's assistant whom he loved and had been more or less engaged to for nearly 10 years. Melancholic and tubercular, she took an overdose of laudanum and died in 1862. Rossetti, in a fit of guilt and grief, buried with her a manuscript containing a number of his poems. Some years later he permitted her body to be exhumed and the poems recovered. The first edition of his collected works appeared in 1870.

The last years of his life were marked by an increasingly morbid state of mind (he became addicted to alcohol and chloral), and for a time he was considered insane. Although he began his career as a painter, Rossetti's lasting reputation rests upon his poetry. He was a master of the sonnet form, and his sonnet sequence “The House of Life” is one of his finest works. His other notable works include the ballad “Sister Helen” and the dramatic monologues “Jenny” and “A Last Confession.” His translations from the Italian appeared as Dante and His Circle (1861).

Astrte Syrica, 1877
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Material: oil on canvas

"Love is the last relay and ultimate outposts of eternity."~Dante Gabriel Rossetti

"Was it a friend or foe that spread these lies? Nay, who but infants question in such wise, 'twas one of my most intimate enemies."~Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Venus Vericordia
Date: 1864 - 1868
Materials: oil on canvas

The House of Life: 71. The Choice, I
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Eat thou and drink; to-morrow thou shalt die.
Surely the earth, that's wise being very old,
Needs not our help. Then loose me, love, and hold
Thy sultry hair up from my face; that I
May pour for thee this golden wine, brim-high,
Till round the glass thy fingers glow like gold.
We'll drown all hours: thy song, while hours are toll'd,
Shall leap, as fountains veil the changing sky.
Now kiss, and think that there are really those,
My own high-bosom'd beauty, who increase
Vain gold, vain lore, and yet might choose our way!
Through many years they toil; then on a day
They die not,—for their life was death,—but cease

Dante's Dream
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)
Materials: oil on canvas

The House of Life: 72. The Choice, II
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Watch thou and fear; to-morrow thou shalt die.
Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?
Is not the day which God's word promiseth
To come man knows not when? In yonder sky
Now while we speak, the sun speeds forth: can I
Or thou assure him of his goal? God's breath
Even at this moment haply quickeneth
The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh
Though screen'd and hid, shall walk the daylight here.
And dost thou prate of all that man shall do?
Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be
Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?
Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell? Go to:
Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.

Study of a Pallbearer for 'Dante's Dream'
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)
Materials: chalk

The House of Life: 73. The Choice, III
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Think thou and act; to-morrow thou shalt die
Outstretch'd in the sun's warmth upon the shore,
Thou say'st: "Man's measur'd path is all gone o'er:
Up all his years, steeply, with strain and sigh,
Man clomb until he touch'd the truth; and I,
Even I, am he whom it was destin'd for."
How should this be? Art thou then so much more
Than they who sow'd, that thou shouldst reap thereby?
Nay, come up hither. From this wave-wash'd mound
Unto the furthest flood-brim look with me;
Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown'd.
Miles and miles distant though the last line be,
And though thy soul sail leagues and leagues beyond,—
Still, leagues beyond those leagues, there is more sea.

The Beloved (The Bride)
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)
Materials: oil

I am not sure which I like best, Dante's sonnets or his paintings. If I had to choose one I think I would pick his paintings, because there is nothing more beautiful than a woman. Which would you choose?

N Posted by Rain at 8/08/2006 12:27:00 AM


  • Blogger Sheila posted at 6:31 PM  
    What great paintings - I absolutely love the Pre-Raphaelites - fantastic post Rain -Have a great weekend!
  • Blogger The Fat Lady Sings posted at 8:59 PM  
    He saw her face everywhere. In everything. She must have haunted his every waking hour - and most of his dreams as well.
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