Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
AKA Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti
Birthplace: London, England
Location of death: Birchington-on-Sea, England
Cause of death: Kidney failure
Remains: Buried, All Saints Churchyard, Birchington, Kent, England
Executive summary: English pre-Raphaelite painter
Rossetti was of Italian descent, raised by a Dante scholar who had been friends with Lord Byron. He never visited Italy, but was fascinated by it, and used Italian themes in his artwork. Early on, he translated books of Italian poetry.
His paintings were usually based on Italian history or Arthurian subjects, often Dante and Beatrix. His most famous paintings include Beata Beatrix, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin, How They Met Themselves, La Ghirlandata, Dante’s Dream, and Proserpine and The Day Dream.
Rossetti’s favorite model was Elizabeth Siddal, who he married in 1860. She died of a laudanum overdose in 1862, after the birth of their stillborn daughter. In his grief, he buried a volume of his poetry with her; years later regretting it and enlisting the help of friends to stealthily exhume the coffin and recover the volume.
He then used Jane Morris, wife of William Morris as his model, and had an affair with her. Another model, who became his mistress, was Fanny Cornforth. He lived and worked with poet Algernon Charles Swinburne in Chelsea for years. Rossetti developed an addiction to the drug ether. A critic’s attack, in an article called "The Fleshly School of Poetry" was very disturbing to him. He replied to the article with his own entitled "The Stealthy School of Criticism," which only elevated the argument. He became paranoid and depressed, attempting suicide in Scotland in 1872, but recovered.
Besides being a painter, he was a poet and writer as well. Some of his best-known poems include The Blessed Damozel and My Sister’s Sleep.
Father: Gabriele Rossetti (professor of Italian)
Mother: Frances Mary Lavinia Polidori (sister of Dr. John Polidori)
Sister: Christina Rossetti (poet)
Sister: Maria Rossetti
Brother: William Michael (art critic)
Wife: Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (m. 1860, d. 1862)
Daughter: (b. 2-May-1861, stillborn)