“to go to nature in all singleness of heart, rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing”
JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS
Millais, Cymon and Iphigenia
Millais,Isabella and Lorenzo
Pala Sforzesca, Beatrice d’Este
Millais, Christ in the house of his parents
Laertes “Drowned! O, where?”
Queen Gertrude “There is a willow grows askant the brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream. Therewith fantastic garlands did she make Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, But our cold maids do dead-men's-fingers call them. There on the pendent boughs her crownet weeds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke, When down her weedy trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up; Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes, As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element. But long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death.”
My own belief is that I am a poet (within the limit of my powers) primarily and that it is my poetic tendencies that chiefly give value to my pictures: only painting being – what poetry is not – a livelihood – I have put my poetry chiefly in that form. On the other hand, the bread-and-cheese question has led a good deal of my painting being pot-boiling and no more – whereas my verse, being unprofitable, has remained (as much as I have found time for) unprostituted.
(Lettera di D.G.Rossetti a T.G.Hake, 21 aprile 1870)
I have not unfrequently heard my brother say that he considered himself more essentially a poet than a painter.
To vary the form of expression, he thought that he had mastered the means of embodying poetical conceptions in the verbal and rhythmical vehicle more thoroughly than in form and design, perhaps more thoroughly than in colour
(Dalla Introduzione di W.M. Rossetti alla edizione di The Poetical works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, London, Ellis and Elvey,1891, p.xxx)
Introductory sonnet to The House of Life
Dante, Divina Commedia
Dante, Vita nuova
Thomas Malory, LeMorte D’Arthur, (finito nel 1470 e pubblicato dall’editore Caxton nel 1485)
rielaborazione quattrocentesca delle leggende del ciclo arturiano (Lancillotto e Ginevra, Tristano e Isotta, la vicenda del Santo Graal etc.)
Elizabeth Siddal (1829 -1862)
Dante in meditation holding a pomegranate (symbol of immortality) 1852
"One face looks out from all his canvases, One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans: We found her hidden just behind those screens, That mirror gave back all her loveliness. A queen in opal or in ruby dress, A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens, A saint, an angel - every canvas means The same one meaning, neither more nor less. He feeds upon her face by day and night, And she with true kind eyes looks back on him, Fair as the moon and joyful as the light: Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim; Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright; Not as she is, but as she fills his dream."
------- Christina Rossetti, In an Artist's Studio (1856)
Lizzy in a chair
Lizzy Siddal plaiting her hair
E.Siddal, The Lady of Shalott
E.Siddal, Portrait of Clara Siddal
E.Siddal, Lovers listening to music
E.Siddal, Before the battle
Beatrice nega a Dante il saluto (1853)
Dante,Vita Nuova e traduzione di DGR
E per questa cagione, cioè di questa soverchievole voce che parea che m’infamasse viziosamente, quella gentilissima, la quale fue distruggitrice di tutti li vizi e regina de le virtudi, passando per alcuna parte, mi negò lo suo dolcissimo salutare, ne lo quale stava tutta la mia beatitudine
...and by this it happened...that she who was the destroyer of all evil and the queen of all good, coming where I was, denied me her sweet salutation, in the which alone was my blessedness
Primo anniversario della morte di Beatrice (1853)
In quel giorno nel quale si compiea l’anno che questa donna era fatta de li cittadini di vita eterna, io mi sedea in parte ne la quale, ricordandomi di lei, disegnava uno angelo sopra certe tavolette; e mentre io lo disegnava, volsi li occhi, e vidi lungo me uomini a li quali si convenia di fare onore. E’ riguardavano quello che io facea; e secondo che mi fu detto poi, elli erano stati già alquanto anzi che io me ne accorgessi.Quando li vidi, mi levai, e salutando loro dissi: “Altri era testé meco, però pensava”.
Paolo e Francesca
Paolo e Francesca “Quali colombe dal disìo chiamate” Inferno, canto V, vv.82-142
The wedding of saint George and the Princess Sabra 1857
How Sir Galahad
Roman de la Rose
Bocca baciata 1859 “bocca baciata non perde ventura,anzi rinnova come fa la luna”, Decameron, giornata II, novella VII
When Hunt in 1860 saw this picture he judged that DGR had “completely changed his philosophy”, which he showed in his art, “leaving monastic sentiment for Epicureanism” (see Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism, vol. 2, 111-112).
Tiziano, Giovane donna alla toletta c.1515
Dante sogna la morte di Beatrice 1856
Dante sogna la morte di Beatrice, 1870
...e fu sì forte la erronea fantasia, che mi mostrò questa donna morta: e pareami che donne la covrissero, cioè la sua testa, con un bianco velo; e pareami che la sua faccia avesse tanto aspetto d’umilitade...
(Vita Nuova, XXIII, 7-9)
Fazio’s lover (1863;1873) per illustrare, nella prima versione, la canzone di Fazio degli Uberti, “Io miro i crespi e biondi capegli”
Monna Vanna 1866 il titolo allude a Madonna Giovanna,la donna amata da Guido Cavalcanti
Regina cordium 1866
The beloved 1865
Venus Verticordia 1864-66
Proserpina 1874 Lungi è la luce che in sù questo muro Rifrange appena, un breve istante scorta Del rio palazzo alla soprana porta. Lungi quei fiori d'Enna, O lido oscuro, Dal frutto tuo fatal che omai m'è duro. Lungi quel cielo dal tartareo manto Che quì mi cuopre: e lungi ahi lungi ahi quanto Le notti che saràn dai dì che furo. Lungi da me mi sento; e ognor sognando Cerco e ricerco, e resto ascoltatrice; E qualche cuore a qualche anima dice, (Di cui mi giunge il suon da quando in quando, Continuamente insieme sospirando,)— “Oimè per te, Proserpina infelice!”
In 1878 DGR gave a long description of the symbolic context of the picture to W. A. Turner, who had just bought the (so-called) sixth version: “The figure represents Proserpine as Empress of Hades. After she was conveyed by Pluto to his realm, and became his bride, her mother Ceres importuned Jupiter for her return to earth, and he was prevailed on to consent to this, provided only she had not partaken any of the fruits of Hades. It was found, however, that she had eaten one grain of a pomegranate, and this enchained her to her new empire and destiny. She is represented in a gloomy corridor of her palace, with the fatal fruit in her hand. As she passes, a gleam strikes on the wall behind her from some inlet suddenly opened, and admitting for a moment the light of the upper world; and she glances furtively toward it, immersed in thought. The incense-burner stands behind her as the attribute of a goddess. The ivy-branch in the background (a decorative appendage to the sonnet inscribed on the label) may be taken as a symbol of clinging memory” (see Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 236).
Pia dei Tolomei
la donna della fiamma
The Blessed damozel 1873-78
“I saw that Poe had done the utmost it was possible to do with the grief of the lover on earth, and so I determined to reverse the conditions, and give utterance to the yearning of the loved one in heaven”(Caine, Recollections, 284).