The painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. He is now best known for his sumptuous oil paintings of solitary women from the 1860s and 1870s. These were a major influence on European Symbolism at the end of the nineteenth century, and were admired by Salvador Dali as embodiments of the 'Eternal Feminine' in 1936.
In this overview of Rossetti's career, however, Lisa Tickner suggests that the later oils have obscured an interest in his earlier works and his achievements as a draughtsman and illustrator. She discusses the jewel-like watercolours of the 1850s, inspired by themes from Dante and Authurian legend, and argues that it was, paradoxically, when Rossetti was most in thrall to the mythic past that he was at his most innovative and visionary. This timely reassessment presents a picture of a complex and highly original artist.
Lisa Tickner is Professor of Art History at Middlesex University. She has published widely on late nineteenth and early twentieth century art.