The model for Rossetti’s Proserpine is Jane Morris; her husband, the artist William Morris, suggested the theme and model to Rossetti. The story of Proserpine tells of a captive bride, forced to remain in the underworld with her husband for six months each year after eating six pomegranate seeds. Jane’s own unhappy marriage to a reportedly cold husband may have served as the inspiration for the piece.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 125 x 61 cm
English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti left the RA Schools in 1848 and in the same year founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood along with Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. In 1850 he painted his first subject from the works of Dante, who remained a lifelong inspiration. From 1854 he prospered under the patronage of John Ruskin. After the suicide of his wife and pupil Elizabeth Siddal, he lived in great style, with a menagerie of animals. From 1868 to the mid-1870s he conducted an affair with Jane, the wife of William Morris. She remained his principal muse until his death and he immortalized her in such works as Proserpine.