Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
An Inventory of His Art Collection at the Harry Ransom Center
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.
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.
Gift (G2767) and purchases (R275, R2767, R3847), 1960-1967
Lauren Algee, 2010