- Dante Gabriel Rossetti
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti was born in London on 12 May, 1828, son of the Italian-born poet Gabriele Rossetti. He was educated there at King's College and the Royal Academy. At the academy he met the painters Sir John Everett Millais and Holman Hunt, with whom he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Rosetti was strongly attracted to the dramatic and the supernatural. Among his earliest paintings was a scene of the annunciation, Ecce Ancilla Domini. His art subsequently developed through other phases, in which the sense of human beauty, intensity of abstract expression, and richness of colour were leading elements.

Rossetti began writing poetry about the same time that he took definitely to the study of painting. Two of his best known poems, The Portrait and The Blessed Damozel, were written in 1842. He made a number of translations from Dante and other Italian writers, published in 1861 as The Early Italian Poets.

Rossetti's later years were marred by sorrow and mental depression, relieved only by the creative play of his mind. In 1860 he had married a milliner, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, whose beauty he immortalised in many of his best-known paintings, such as Mary Magdalene at the House of Simon the Pharisee. Within two years the invalid Elizabeth died, and Rossetti was grief stricken by the tragedy. In addition he was troubled by a bitter attack that had been made on the morality of his poems in an article entitled "The Fleshy School of Poetry", published in The Contemporary Review in October 1871. Rossetti's rebuttal was published as "The Stealthy School of Criticism" in the Athenaeum in December 1871.

Rossetti continued almost to the last to produce paintings and poems. In 1881 he published Ballads and Sonnets, which contained some of his finest work, Rose Mary, The White Ship, The King's Tragedy, and the sonnet sequence The House of Life. Of his later paintings, which are murky and dreamlike, two of the best are Dante's Dream and Proserpina. He died in Berchington on 10 April, 1882.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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