Dante Gabriel Rossetti

On this date in 1828, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in England, the son of an exiled Italian patriot. Educated at King's College London and a drawing academy, Dante was both a well-known poet and painter, and became part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (made up largely of freethinking artists). Rossetti's sister was the poet Christina Rossetti. His early paintings, which were in oil and often with religious themes, were immediate hits, although some critics felt his poetry was his artistic forte. Rossetti turned to watercolors and themes inspired by his namesake Dante (whom Rossetti translated into English) and medieval themes in keeping with the Pre-Raphaelites. A favorite model was his short-lived tubercular wife Elizabeth Siddal, whose auburn hair and pure looks he immortalized. His sister Christina also posed for him. Although Rossetti was not considered scientifically inclined and went through different phases, he was not religious. D. 1882.

“[I am ] a decided sceptic. . . . professed no religious faith and practised no regular religious observances.”
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—Dante Rossetti, memoir prefixed to his Works, i, 114, 1911

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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