Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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He was born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti in London on May 12, 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 William Holman Hunt, with whom he founded the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood". Rossetti 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 color were leading elements.

Rossetti began writing poetry about the same time that he took to the study of painting. One of his best-known poems, "The Blessed Damozel", was written in 1842. He also made a number of translations from Dante and other Italian writers.

Rossetti's later years were marred by sorrow and mental depression. In 1860 he had married a milliner , Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, whom he had been courting for years. He immortalized her beauty in many of his best-known paintings, such as "Regina Cordium". Within two years the invalid Elizabeth died of a laudanum overdose, 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.

He later met (and was enamoured with) William Morris' wife Jane. It is said that the two procured permission from William to carry on an affair. Jane Morris is the woman whose face is seen in countless paintings- Her thick, sensuous lips and long neck have become Rossetti's trademark. He 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 known are "Dante's Dream" and "Proserpine". He died in Berchington on April 10, 1882.

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