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Biography for Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Also known as:Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti
Nationality:British (English)
Born:1828 - Portland Place, London, England
Died:1882 - Birchington-on-Sea, England


Artist. Son of the Italian scholar, Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854) and Frances Polidori (1800-1886). Brother to William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919) and Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). Rossetti was educated at King's College School, London and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1845. Rossetti was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery has one of the largest collections of his work.

Whilst Rossetti shared the Brotherhood's preoccupation with medieval subjects, his work was distinct in that as early as the 1850s it showed little concern with naturalism. Unlike other members of the Brotherhood, he was reluctant to exhibit his work. As a result, much of Rossetti's work was commission-based including, for example, 'The Boat of Love' (1874, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery) for Walter Dunlop of Bingley.

Rossetti met Elizabeth Siddal (1829-1862) in 1850, who became his model and eventually his wife in 1860. Siddal sat for various works including 'The Return of Tibullus to Delia' (1853, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery). During this time, Rossetti also developed a friendship with John Ruskin (1819-1900) who championed and advised him on his work.

Siddal, following a period of post-natal depression after the birth of a still-born child, died of a suspected laudanum overdose in 1862. He had already met Fanny Cornforth who became the model for 'Found' (1854, drawings in Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery). Ther subject of a woman turned prostitute being confronted by her former suitor was Rossetti's most important but only attempt at a modern life subject.

Rossetti played a key role in William Morris's company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co., especially as a stained glass designer. He translated early Italian poetry into English, and had his own 'Poems' published in 1870. His close association with Jane Morris saw him execute a series of portraits of her in 1868, which became the basis of later subject paintings.

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