University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Dante Gabriel Rossetti:

An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882.
Title: Dante Gabriel Rossetti Art Collection
Dates: circa 1861-1875, undated
Abstract: The Dante Gabriel Rossetti Art Collection consists of pastel drawings, ink drawings, and a plaster death mask of Rossetti by Brucciani.
Call Number: Art Collection AR-00230
Extent: 1 oversize folder, 4 framed items, 1 sculpture
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet and painter, born in London in 1828, the son of a professor of Italian. Rossetti was a precocious, charismatic, but ill-disciplined student. He studied at King's College School, Henry Sass's Drawing Academy in Bloomsbury (starting in 1841), and finally at the Antique School of the Royal Academy, from 1845 to 1848, which he left for a brief period of study under Ford Madox Brown. Barely five months later, Rossetti left Brown and established himself in the studio of William Holman Hunt, also a Royal Academy student. Writing absorbed much of Rossetti's time, including translations of Dante, whose work was a lifelong inspiration.

With Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, Rossetti formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in September 1848. The group derived its name from a desire to revert to a tradition of simplicity and realism that was found in early Italian art; they aimed to achieve a high degree of fidelity in reproducing nature and detail. Rossetti devised the Brotherhood's magazine, The Germ, chiefly devoted to the nature of art, which lasted only four issues. The original Brotherhood also ceased to exist by 1852, though their style lived on.

In 1850, Rossetti painted his first subject from the works of Dante. Rossetti's enthusiasm for Dante, Robert Browning's poetry, Arthurian romance, biblical subjects, and archaic legends and medieval lore is also reflected in his imaginative watercolors of the 1850s. Rossetti's interest in Arthurian subjects was fuelled by his mentorship of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, who joined him in decorating the Oxford Union in 1857. As a member of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., Rossetti executed designs for stained glass. While he did not favor book illustration, his designs during this period also broadened his artistic audience.

In 1859, Rossetti abandoned Pre-Raphaelite principles to paint Bocca baciata, a bust portrait of his mistress Fanny Cornforth, which became a prototype for many of his popular later paintings featuring beautiful women in exotic surroundings under fanciful titles. After the suicide of his wife and pupil Elizabeth Siddal in 1862, he lived in great style, with a menagerie of animals, in Cheyne Walk. From 1868 until the mid-1870s, Rossetti conducted an affair with Jane Burden, the wife of William Morris, which, along with harsh criticism of his poetry, may have contributed to Rossetti's 1872 suicide attempt and subsequent depression and paranoia. Jane Morris remained his principal muse until his death in 1882.

Scope and Contents

The Dante Gabriel Rossetti Art Collection consists of pastel drawings, ink drawings, and a plaster death mask of Rossetti by Brucciani. Some of the pieces are studies for later works, including the drawings for the stained glass of St. George and the Dragon executed by William Morris. All of the works date to the late 1800s.

The Collection is divided into two series, Works by Rossetti and Works by Others. The works are listed by medium and chronologically by date. Titles are transcribed from the items; cataloger's titles appear in brackets.



Open for research. A minimum of twenty-four hours is required to pull art materials to the Reading Room.

Related Material

The Ransom Center also has in its holdings a book of verse by Rossetti's sister, Christina Rossetti (Verses. London: Privately printed, 1847.) with original illustrations drawn into the book in pencil by her brother.

Administrative Information


Gift (G2767) and purchases (R275, R2767, R3847), 1960-1967

Processed by:

Lauren Algee, 2010


Rodgers, David. "Rossetti, Dante Gabriel."The Oxford Companion to Western Art, (accessed 27 April 2010).

Surtees, Virginia. "Rossetti: (1) Dante Gabriel Rossetti."Grove Art Online, (accessed 13 April 2010).

Container List

Series I. Works by Rossetti, 1861-1875, undated

Painting storage Lady Lilith. [Woman in three-quarter view holding mirror and combing her hair. Original model was Fanny Cornforth; Alice Wilding's face later substituted]. Circa 1867.
1 drawing (colored chalk on paper), 85 x 93.8 cm. in frame.
Painting storage La Pia de' Tolomei [Study of model Jane Burden Morris. She is seated in three-quarter view, facing left, hands in lap]. Circa 1870-1875.
1 drawing (colored pastel on paper), 96.8 x 117 cm. in frame.
Painting storage Mary Magdalene. [Bust portrait of model Alice Wilding, red-haired woman, looking upward with bronze container in left hand]. 1874.
1 drawing (colored chalk on paper), 88.7 x 73.5 cm. in frame.
Painting storage [Preliminary drawing of Dante for painting, Dante's Dream. Model Mr. Wilding in full-length profile wearing long gown and pointed cap]. Undated.
1 drawing (crayon or charcoal on paper), 65 x 118.5 cm. in frame.
Rossetti box [St. George and the Dragon. Six designs for stained glass by Morris & Co.]. Circa 1861-1862.
6 drawings (ink, wash and pencil on paper), 55.8 x 48.8 cm.

Series II. Works by Others, undated

Sculpture storage Brucciani, Domenico. D. Rossetti [Death mask]. Undated.
1 sculpture (plaster), 21.5 x 30 x 16 cm.