Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), best known and admired for his striking and seductive portraits of women, was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists whose work is inspired by the art of the early Italian Renaissance. Rossetti’s powerful and unconventional portraits, with their sumptuous, jewel-like colours, are explored in this beautiful gift book. Examples have been drawn from the full range of Rossetti’s work – including paintings, drawings, print illustrations, decorative designs and staged photographs – and chart the artist’s lively engagement with mythology, history, literature, biblical subjects and modern life.
Rossetti defined his experiences through his passion for his subjects and this book traces his deliberate intertwining of art and life. His models such as Jane Morris, Elizabeth Siddal and his sister Christina, were his inspiration and, in his rejection of conventional beauty, he redefined difference as desirable. Through his view of women – in which admiration veered towards fixation, praise towards possession – Rossetti confronted the staid 19th-century public with a new and powerful image of women, and the allure of that power is still felt today.