Rossetti's Portraits of Women

[Click on image to enlarge] In the second phase of his career, from 1859 on, Dante Gabriel Rossetti concentrated on bust-length oil paintings of beautiful women. In these works the figures seem too large for their frames, from which they often look directly out at the viewer, inviting the gaze of sensual and aesthetic contemplation at the center of Rossetti's art. Often the paintings are particularly interesting both for the images of the female they project and for the relationship to text they imply, especially since Rossetti frequently painted pictures to illustrate his poems and wrote poems to gloss his pictures. Both poems and pictures invoke these looming female presences, presences that embody sexuality, poetry, even life and death. Rossetti used as models for these paintings women with whom he had intense personal relationships. The model he used most frequently in his late painting was Jane Morris, William Morris's wife and Rossetti's mistress. It is interesting to compare Rossetti's painting of Jane Morris in Astarte Syriaca with Morris's own oil painting of his wife as Queen Guinevere and with a photograph of Jane Morris.


[Click on image to enlarge] [Click on image to enlarge] [Click on image to enlarge]

© 2010 W.W. Norton and Company :  Site Feedback   :  Help  :  Credits  :  Home  :  Top of page