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Title: Rossetti
Author: Pissarro, Lucien
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



  MASTERPIECES
  IN COLOUR
  EDITED BY - -
  T. LEMAN HARE


  ROSSETTI

  1828--1882



"MASTERPIECES IN COLOUR" SERIES


    ARTIST.                AUTHOR.
  VELAZQUEZ.           S. L. BENSUSAN.
  REYNOLDS.            S. L. BENSUSAN.
  TURNER.              C. LEWIS HIND.
  ROMNEY.              C. LEWIS HIND.
  GREUZE.              ALYS EYRE MACKLIN.
  BOTTICELLI.          HENRY B. BINNS.
  ROSSETTI.            LUCIEN PISSARRO.
  BELLINI.             GEORGE HAY.
  FRA ANGELICO.        JAMES MASON.
  REMBRANDT.           JOSEF ISRAELS.
  LEIGHTON.            A. LYS BALDRY.
  RAPHAEL.             PAUL G. KONODY.
  HOLMAN HUNT.         MARY E. COLERIDGE.
  TITIAN.              S. L. BENSUSAN.
  MILLAIS.             A. LYS BALDRY.
  CARLO DOLCI.         GEORGE HAY.
  GAINSBOROUGH.        MAX ROTHSCHILD.
  TINTORETTO.          S. L. BENSUSAN.
  LUINI.               JAMES MASON.
  FRANZ HALS.          EDGCUMBE STALEY.
  VAN DYCK.            PERCY M. TURNER.
  LEONARDO DA VINCI.   M. W. BROCKWELL.
  RUBENS.              S. L. BENSUSAN.
  WHISTLER.            T. MARTIN WOOD.
  HOLBEIN.             S. L. BENSUSAN.
  BURNE-JONES.         A. LYS BALDRY.
  VIGÉE LE BRUN.       C. HALDANE MACFALL.
  CHARDIN.             PAUL G. KONODY.
  FRAGONARD.           C. HALDANE MACFALL.
  MEMLINC.             W. H. J. & J. C. WEALE.
  CONSTABLE.           C. LEWIS HIND.
  RAEBURN.             JAMES L. CAW.
  JOHN S. SARGENT.     T. MARTIN WOOD.
  LAWRENCE.            S. L. BENSUSAN.
  DÜRER.               H. E. A. FURST.
  MILLET.              PERCY M. TURNER.
  WATTEAU.             C. LEWIS HIND.
  HOGARTH.             C. LEWIS HIND.
  MURILLO.             S. L. BENSUSAN.
  WATTS.               W. LOFTUS HARE.
  INGRES.              A. J. FINBERG.

_Others in Preparation._



  [Illustration: PLATE I.--THE DAYDREAM

    From the oil painting (61½ in. by 35 in.) painted in 1880 and
      first exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1883. (Frontispiece)

  This picture was painted from Mrs. William Morris and was left to
  South Kensington by Constantine Ionidès, Esq.]



  ROSSETTI

  BY LUCIEN PISSARRO

  ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT
  REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR

  [Illustration: IN
  SEMPITERNUM.]

  LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK
  NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  Plate
     I. The Daydream                                     Frontispiece
          From the Ionidès Collection at South Kensington
              Museum
                                                                 Page
    II. Ecce Ancilla Domini                                        14
          From the Oil Painting In the Tate Gallery

   III. Dante drawing the Angel                                    24
          From the Water-Colour in the Taylorian Museum,
              Oxford

    IV. Beata Beatrix                                              34
          From the Oil Painting in the Tate Gallery

     V. The Bower Meadow                                           40
          From the Oil Painting in the collection of the late Sir
              John Milburn, Bart., Acklington, Northumberland

    VI. The Borgia Family                                          50
          From the Water-Colour In South Kensington Museum

   VII. Dante's Dream                                              60
          From the Oil Painting in the Walker Art Gallery,
              Liverpool

  VIII. Astarte Syriaca                                            70
          From the Oil Painting in the Manchester Art Gallery



[Illustration: Rossetti]

I


About the middle of the nineteenth century Europe woke to the fact that
Art, despite its pretention, had lost all touch with tradition and,
like a blind man deprived of his staff, stood fumbling for direction.
The necessary "point d'appui" took shape in a return to nature. This
return was effected by very different means according to the country
and artistic milieu in which it occurred. In England it was really a
revival of the schools of painting that preceded Raphael and resulted
in grafting the complicated passions of our century upon the naïve
outlook of the early Italians. The more logical mind of the Frenchman
saw that it was not enough to look at nature through the eyes of the
Primitives. The point of view had perforce changed and all that it
was necessary to borrow from the early schools was the sincerity they
brought to the interpretation of phenomena.

We have been told that, in contrast to the continental movement, the
realism of the Pre-Raphaelites was applied only to noble subjects. But
what is a noble subject? The distinction is a purely literary one.
There are no noble subjects in art; there are only harmonies of line
and colour. For example this school would prefer the rose to the
cabbage as a subject, on account of the symbols attached to it. It is
the Queen of Flowers, the Mystic Rose, &c., &c. But is the rose greater
than the cabbage from a purely pictorial point of view? It depends
entirely upon how far the painter is able to reveal the beauty, the
harmony of form and colour of either. The symbolistic appanage of the
rose will not suffice of itself to make a picture, nor for the lack of
these symbols may we condemn the cabbage.

The realism of the Pre-Raphaelites developed an absorption in detail,
a "bit by bit" painting that was too often detrimental to the whole.
In the best works of the early Italians the unity is, in spite of that
attention to detail, admirably maintained--in other words the values
are preserved. It was not long, however, before Rossetti quitted the
path of the Pre-Raphaelites for a broader one. His paintings are
entirely symbolistic, therefore literary. Given the personality of an
artist equally gifted as painter and poet, this need not surprise us.
Indeed, seeing that Rossetti's pictorial conceptions are exclusively
literary, he might be considered as more dominantly a writer than a
painter; and this is the light in which he saw himself. We might say
he painted "sentiments" and add that sentiment is the property of
literature, but in Rossetti's case they have at least the advantage of
intensity. They come straight from life, for all his art is more or
less connected with the tragedy of his own existence. Herein lies the
value of Rossetti's works as artistic creations.



II


Rossetti's family, as his name indicates, was of Italian origin. His
ancestors on his father's side belong to Vasto d'Ammone, a small city
of the Abruzzi. The original name of the family was Della Guardia.
Probably the diminutive Rossetti was given to some red-haired ancestor
and retained in spite of the disappearance of that peculiarity. The
grandfather of the poet, Dominico Rossetti, was in the iron trade,
his son Gabriel Rossetti, born at Vasto, became a custodian of the
Bourbon Museum at Naples. He was an ardent patriot and one of the group
of reformers who obtained a constitution from Ferdinand, King of the
Two Sicilies, in 1820. The return of the King with the Austrian army
obliged Gabriel Rossetti, who was compromised by his actions as well
as by his patriotic songs, to make his escape from Italy. He did this
by the help of the English admiral, commanding the fleet in the bay.
Indeed he left Italy disguised in an English uniform.

  [Illustration: PLATE II.--ECCE ANCILLA DOMINI

    From the oil painting (28½ in. by 17 in.) painted in 1850 and is
      now in the Tate Gallery

  This picture was first exhibited in 1850 at the "Free Exhibition"
  in Portland Place. It was very slightly retouched in 1873 for the
  then owner, Mr. Graham. It is rightly considered the most typical of
  Rossetti's "Pre-Raphaelite" period.]

After passing three years in Malta (1822-1825), he came to England
bearing introductions from John Hookham Frere, then Governor of Malta.
A year after his arrival he married Frances Mary Livinia Polidori,
whose mother was an English lady of the name of Pierce, while her
father was Gaetano Polidori, the translator of Milton. Gabriel Rossetti
was appointed Professor of Italian literature at King's College in
1831; but owing to the failure of his eyesight he had to resign that
position in 1845. He died nine years after, on April 26th, 1854.
He is the author of several works, the best known in England are:
_Comento analitico sulla Divina Commedia_ (1826-1827); _Sullo Spirito
Anti-Papale_ (1832); and _Il Mistero dell' Amor Platonic_ (1840). In
Italy, particularly in his own province, his name is held in veneration
for services in the cause of liberty. He had four children, the eldest,
Maria Francesca, the author of "A Shadow of Dante," died in 1876.
Dante Gabriel was the second and was born the 12th of May 1828 at 38
Charlotte Street, Great Portland Place, London. William Michael was the
third, and Christina was the youngest.

Very little is known of the early life of Rossetti. He received some
instruction at a private school in Foley Street, Portland Place,
studying there from the autumn of 1836 to the summer of 1837. He was
afterwards sent to King's College School. There he learned Latin,
French, and a little Greek. Naturally enough he knew Italian very well
from home and also a little German. In his home surroundings the young
child's taste for literature was developed very early; at five years
old he wrote a drama called "The Slave." Towards his thirteenth year he
began a romantic tale in prose, "Roderick and Rosalba." Somewhere about
1843 he wrote a legendary tale entitled "Sir Hugh Le Heron," founded on
a tale by Allan Cunningham. His grandfather Gaetano Polidori printed
it himself for private circulation, but the work contains no sign of
his ultimate development and has been justly omitted from his collected
works. Soon the wish to be a painter took possession of Dante Gabriel
and, on leaving school, he began his technical education in art at
Cary's Academy in Bloomsbury. In 1846 he joined the classes of the
Antique School of the Royal Academy. It is worth pointing out that
he never followed the Life School of that institution. Conventional
methods of study were distasteful to him. He decided to throw up the
Academy training and wrote to a painter, not very well known at that
date but whose work he admired, asking to be admitted to his studio
as a pupil. The painter was Madox Brown, and young Rossetti, given
his needs and mode of thought, could not have chosen a more suitable
master. Madox Brown was only seven years older than Rossetti, but he
had studied at Ghent, Antwerp, Paris, and Rome. He had exhibited some
fine cartoons during the early forties for the decoration of the House
of Lords. Among these was one that Rossetti had greatly admired at the
exhibition of the competitive cartoons in Westminster Hall. It was
"Harold's body brought before William the Conqueror." In March 1848
Rossetti entered upon his new experience and Madox Brown agreed to
teach him painting, not for a fee but for the mere pleasure of meeting
and training a sympathetic spirit. Rossetti did not long remain a
regular attendant in the studio. He left after a few months.

On the opening day of the exhibition (May 1848), "Rossetti," says
Mr. Hunt, "came up boisterously and in loud tongue made me feel very
confused by declaring that mine was the best picture of the year. The
fact that it was from Keats ('The Eve of St. Agnes') made him extra
enthusiastic, for, I think, no painter had ever before painted from
that wonderful poet, who then, it may scarcely be credited, was little
known." Rossetti wished so earnestly to become more intimate with Hunt
that he agreed to work with him, sharing a studio that the latter had
just taken in Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square. Here he began to paint
his first composition, having hitherto done no more than studies,
sketches, a number of portraits, some of which reveal excellent work.
At this time his literary development was somewhat ahead of his
artistic growth. He had already translated the _Vita Nuova_ which
is alone a monumental achievement, introducing wonderfully into the
English the warmth of the southern language; and he had written some
of his best known poems, including "The Blessed Damozel," "My Sister's
Sleep," "The Portrait," a considerable portion of "Ave," "A last
Confession," and the "Bride's Prelude."

Millais and Holman Hunt, whose friendship dated from the Academy
Schools, found ground for sympathetic union with Rossetti in their
common distaste for contemporary art. They were convinced it was
necessary to abandon the conventional style of the day and return to
a severe and conscientious study of nature. They were for a while
uncertain as to the path to pursue. Where should they turn for precept
and guidance on the line of their new-found principles? Looking through
a book of engravings from the Campo Santo of Pisa one day at Millais'
house, they thought they had found there the direction they sought.
Mr. Holman Hunt tells us that the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood was the immediate result of coming across the book at that
particular time.

While Holman Hunt was painting "Rienzi swearing revenge over his
brother's corpse," and Millais, "Lorenzo and Isabella," Rossetti began
his "Girlhood of Mary Virgin." As can well be imagined that first
composition gave him endless trouble and was the cause of the most
violent fits of alternate depression and energy. But the following
spring (1849), the three pictures were ready for exhibition. Millais
and Hunt were hung in the Royal Academy Exhibition and Rossetti's in
the so-called Free Exhibition, which was held in a gallery at Hyde
Park Corner. In the "Girlhood of Mary Virgin," he represents a room
in the Virgin's home with a balcony on which her father, St. Joachim,
is seen tending a vine which grows up towards the top of the picture.
On the right, against a dark green curtain, are the figures of St.
Anna and the Virgin sitting at an embroidery frame. The mother, in
dark green and brown garments with a dull red head-dress, is watching
with clasped hands the work in front of her. The young girl, a quite
unconventional Madonna dressed in grey, pauses with a needle in her
hand gazing in front of her at a child angel holding a white lily.
Underneath the pot in which the white lily grows are six big books
bearing the names of the six cardinal virtues. The figures, as well
as the dove which is perched on the trellis, bear halos, their names
being inscribed within. Rossetti painted his mother for St. Anna and
his sister Christina for the Virgin. Changing her dark brown hair to
golden, he broke a rule of the Brotherhood, which decrees that the
artist shall copy his model most scrupulously. The picture was signed
with his name, followed by the three letters P.R.B. Rossetti having
revealed the meaning of these three letters to a friend it was soon
generally known and no peace was given to those who dared to stand up
against traditional authority. It is necessary to explain that, at that
time, Raphael was considered the greatest of all painters. All who came
before him were ignored and a set of fixed rules supposed to have been
deduced from his work was taught in all the schools. The revolt of the
"Brethren" was directed much more against those rules than against
Raphael's work which, in all probability, they hardly knew.

  [Illustration: PLATE III.--DANTE DRAWING THE ANGEL

    From the water-colour (16½ in. by 24 in.) painted in 1853 and
      first exhibited in the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition at Russell
      Place in 1857. It is now in the Taylorian Museum at Oxford

  The subject of this water-colour is taken from the following passage
  in the Vita Nuova:

    "On that day which fulfilled the year since my lady had been made
    of the citizens of eternal life, remembering me of her as I sat
    alone, I betook myself to draw the resemblance of an angel upon
    certain tablets. And while I did thus, chancing to turn my head I
    perceived that some were standing beside me, to whom I should have
    given courteous welcome, and that they were observing what I did:
    also I learned afterwards that they had been there awhile before I
    perceived them. Perceiving whom, I arose for salutation and said:
    'Another was with me.'"

  The same incident has been commemorated by Robert Browning in his
  "One Word More."]

At about the same time that he painted "Mary's Girlhood," Rossetti did
a portrait in oils of his father, his first work of this kind. He also
drew an outline design of a lute player and his lady, a subject taken
from Coleridge's "Genevieve"; a pen-and-ink drawing of "Gretchen in
the Chapel," with Mephistopheles whispering in her ear, and "The Sun
may shine and we be cold," a sketch of a girl near a window, apparently
a prisoner. To this period also belongs the important pen-and-ink
drawing, "Il Saluto di Beatrice," representing in two parts the meeting
of Dante and Beatrice, first in a street of Florence and secondly in
Paradise.

The most important of Rossetti's Pre-Raphaelite work during the two
years following 1848 is the "Ecce Ancilla Domini," quite in keeping in
sentiment with the picture of the previous year. Both these pictures
are a little timid in treatment. In the "Ecce Ancilla Domini," the
Virgin clad in white is sitting on her bed, as if just awakened, and
sees with awe the full length of an angel, also clad in white, floating
in front of her and holding a white lily in his hand. The walls are
white but there is a blue curtain behind the Virgin's head and a red
embroidery on its frame is standing in the foreground at the foot
of the bed. The drapery of the angel is a little stiff and the whole
effect rather hard, but notwithstanding this youthful fault the whole
work is restrained and full of charm both in drawing and colour.

This picture was exhibited in 1850 at the same Free Exhibition, which
was moved this year from Hyde Park Corner to Portland Place.

The Pre-Raphaelites were now attacked by the press still more fiercely
than before, but they found a champion in Ruskin who took up their
defence in a series of letters to the _Times_, and in so doing laid
down an elaborate statement of principles. Thus it came about that the
broad and possibly nebulous ideas of the Brethren became transmuted
into hard and fast rules, which the young painters had to accept,
partly out of gratitude to their benefactor, partly because they agreed
with them. Rossetti painted only three pictures strictly according
to the Pre-Raphaelite rules. Curiously enough the best genuine
Pre-Raphaelite picture is "Work" by Ford Madox Brown, who not believing
in cliques refused to join the group.

Round Rossetti were grouped his brother, William Michael, his sister
Christina, with Woolner, Collinson, Deverell, Millais, Hunt, Madox
Brown, William Bell Scott, and Coventry Patmore. Of all these Hunt and
Millais alone showed no inclination for writing. The group naturally
formed a school of literary thought of which "The Germ," originated by
Rossetti to propagate the ideas of the P.R.B., was the outcome.

The cumbrous title "Monthly Thoughts in Literature, Poetry, and Art,"
was first intended to be the title of this special publication of the
brotherhood, but at a meeting held in Rossetti's studio, 72 Newman
Street, in December 1849, when the first number was just ready for
publication it was decided to change the name for the simple title
"The Germ." This was proposed by Mr. Cave Thomas, an intimate friend of
the group.

To the first number Rossetti contributed "My Sister's Sleep," and
a prose romance "Hand and Soul." Following numbers contained "The
Blessed Damozel," "The Carillon," "Sea limits" (under the title "From
the Cliffs"), and several sonnets. Only the first two numbers of the
publication were called "The Germ." The publication was known as "Art
and Poetry" in the third and fourth issues.

"The Germ," as its short career showed, did not meet with success,
but it served to establish Rossetti's reputation among a small group
of artists and admirers. Rossetti's literary contributions were far
more matured than his paintings and it is surprising that they did
not attract more attention. "Hand and Soul" is specially valuable as
bearing a record of psychological experiences which gives a clear
glimpse of Rossetti's mind.



III


The storm of abuse caused by his two first pictures assisted a
natural inclination to give up his first source of religio-mystical
inspiration. Gradually the young painter groped his way towards
romantic subjects and discovered a rich mine of them in the works of
Browning, Dante, Keats, and the "Morte d'Arthur" of Malory. He may be
said to have found there the subjects of most of his compositions, and
his works inspired by these poets are delightfully full of originality
and ingenuity.

He tried first a large canvas from the page's song in "Pippa Passes"
but had to abandon it. The composition of it remains in a little
painting called "Hist, said Kate the Queen," dated 1851. He executed
two other pen-and-ink designs from Browning entitled "Taurellos' first
sight of Fortune" and the "Laboratory," at about the same time.
Probably the latter was his first essay in water-colour, it is very
different from those for which he is popularly known.

In "Beatrice at the Wedding Feast, denying her salutation to Dante," a
small water-colour of 1849 from the "Vita Nuova," the central figure is
a portrait of Miss Elizabeth Siddal who became acquainted with Rossetti
at about this date. She was the daughter of a Sheffield cutler and was
working in a milliner's shop. Walter Deverell discovered her one day,
when he was shopping with his mother. He persuaded her to sit for him
for his "Viola" and later to Rossetti. Her portrait can be seen in a
picture by Holman Hunt and in Millais' Ophelia. Miss Siddal sat for
most of the women in Rossetti's earliest and finest water-colours.

To 1851 belongs the beautiful little composition called "Borgia," in
which Lucrezia can be seen dressed in an ample white gown brightened
all over with coloured ribbons and bows, sitting with a lute in her
hands. In the foreground two children are dancing. Leaning over her
left shoulder is the Pope Alexander VI., while her brother Cæsar stands
on the other side beating time with a knife against a wine-glass on the
table.

Rossetti was not long in discovering that Miss Siddal had a strong
aptitude for art. With his special gift of influencing others the
position of model was soon merged into that of a pupil. Under his
guidance Miss Siddal made rapid progress and her water-colours show a
fine sense of colour.

The sympathy between artist and pupil ripened into affection. The exact
date of their engagement is not known, but it was probably in 1853,
certainly not later than 1854, and was at first kept secret at Miss
Siddal's request.

To the year 1854 belongs the water-colour, "King Arthur's Tomb,"
in which Lancelot and Guenevere are seen bidding farewell over
the tomb of King Arthur; and to the following year belong the three
water-colours, "The Nativity," "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," and the
"Annunciation," as well as the drawing for a wood-cut, illustrating a
poem called "The Maids of Elfen-Mere" by William Allingham.

  [Illustration: PLATE IV.--BEATA BEATRIX

    From the oil painting (34 in. by 27 in.) painted in 1863 for Lord
      Mount-Temple, now in the Tate Gallery

  Though undoubtedly inspired by the death of his wife, the motive of
  this picture was ostensibly taken from the Vita Nuova. The Latin
  quotation inscribed on the frame, which was designed by Rossetti
  himself, is taken from the following passage:

    "After this most gracious creature had gone out from among us,
    the whole city came to be as it were widowed and despoiled of all
    dignity. Then I, left mourning in this desolate city, wrote unto the
    principal persons thereof, in an epistle, concerning its condition;
    taking for my commencement those words of Jeremias: Quomodo sedet
    sola civitas! etc."

  The date of the death of Beatrice is also inscribed on the frame.]

The artistic and romantic force which had produced the Pre-Raphaelite
movement had another important work to do five or six years later,
when a fusion of two movements took place: the early Pre-Raphaelites
represented by Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and Millais, joined the later
movement inaugurated by Morris and Burne-Jones. The second of these
groups originated at Exeter College, Oxford. It took shape like the
first one in a revolt against the Art formulæ of the age. The Oxford
group, like the P.R.B., had a magazine to express their views.

At Christmas 1855 Burne-Jones came up to London and was introduced to
Rossetti, whom he and Morris admired greatly. Rossetti contributed
"The Burden of Nineveh," and a little altered version of "The Blessed
Damozel" to the "Oxford and Cambridge Magazine," the organ of William
Morris.

One year later Burne-Jones and Morris settled in London in rooms at 17
Red Lion Square. Both young men were soon completely under Rossetti's
influence, and their studio became a sort of centre for all members
of his circle. There, in order to furnish and decorate these rooms,
the first essays in designing furniture were made. Rossetti painted a
pair of panels for a cabinet. He made use of the subject of his early
pen-and-ink drawing, "The Salutation of Beatrice," representing, in two
divisions, Dante meeting Beatrice in Florence and again in Paradise,
with a figure of Love standing between them in the midst of symbols.
Besides those panels Rossetti painted on the backs of two arm-chairs,
"Gwendolen in the Witch-tower" and the "Arming of a Knight," both
subjects from poems by William Morris.

To 1857 belongs the charming series of water-colours acquired by
William Morris: "The Damsel of the St. Grael," "The Death of Breuse
sans pitié," "The Chapel before the Lists," "The Tune of Seven Towers,"
and "The Blue Closet." The two last were special favourites with Morris
who used their romantic titles for two of his poems. This year also, he
painted the "Wedding of St. George," "The Gate of Memory," "The Garden
Bower," and a "Christmas Carol."

During the vacation of 1857 Rossetti went to Oxford with Morris
to visit the architect, Benjamin Woodward, who was constructing a
debating-hall for the Union Society. Rossetti saw an opportunity
for mural decoration, and arrangements were made with the building
committee in charge that seven artists including Rossetti, Burne-Jones,
and Morris, should undertake the decoration gratuitously, the Union
only defraying their expenses at Oxford and providing all necessary
material. Rossetti took for subjects, "Launcelot asleep before the
Chapel of the Sanc Grael" and "Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Percival,
receiving the Sanc Grael." Before the pictures were finished they began
to fade, the walls having been badly prepared and Rossetti's designs
were never completed.

While at Oxford, in the summer of 1857, at the theatre, Rossetti was
very much impressed one night by the striking beauty of Miss Burden,
the daughter of an Oxford resident. He obtained an introduction in
order to ask for sittings. A pen-and-ink head called "Queen Guinevere,"
probably meant to replace the earlier studies done for "Launcelot at
the Shrine," was the first result of the new acquaintance. Several
years later, after the death of his wife, Miss Burden, then Mrs.
William Morris, again sat to Rossetti for several of his important
pictures.

  [Illustration: PLATE V.--THE BOWER MEADOW

    From the oil painting (32 in. by 25 in.) in the collection of the
      late Sir John Milburn, Bart., Acklington, Northumberland

  Of this charming composition the landscape background was painted at
  Sevenoaks in 1850, and the figures were added and the whole finished
  in 1872.]



IV


On the 23rd of May 1860, the long delayed marriage of Rossetti to Miss
Siddal took place in St. Clement's Church, Hastings, and the married
couple went to Paris for their honeymoon. While staying there Rossetti
did two pen-and-ink drawings one of which called "How they meet
themselves," was done to replace the one made in 1851 and lost; the
other representing a scene from the "Life of Johnson" by Boswell, quite
an unusual subject for the artist. To the same year belongs the picture
representing Lucrezia Borgia washing her hands after preparing poison
for her husband the Duke Alphonso of Bisceglia.

In 1861 Rossetti's translation from the Italian poets was at last
published with the "Vita Nuova" in a volume entitled "The Italian
Poets from Cuillo d'Alcamo to Dante Alighieri (1100, 1200, 1300)."
The painter poet was enabled to publish this book through Messrs.
Smith, Elder & Co. by the generous assistance of Ruskin who advanced
£100 to the publisher, but the sale of the first edition was only just
sufficient to pay that sum back, leaving a balance of about £10 to the
author. He proposed to etch for the frontispiece a charming design of
which various pen-and-ink versions exist, but being displeased with the
plate he destroyed it. In the same year he painted a small portrait
of his wife called "Regina Cordium." The head with ruddy hair hanging
loose on the shoulders against a gold background, fills nearly all the
canvas and a hand is seen on the left side of the picture holding a
pansy. More than one replica of that portrait exists, and several heads
from different sitters are called "Regina Cordium." Another important
production of the year is "Cassandra." The subject is a scene on the
walls of Troy before Hector's last battle. He has been warned in
vain by the prophetess, who is seen leaning against a pillar, tearing
her clothes in despair. Hector is rushing down the steps, and the
whole composition is full of soldiers, every space being filled with
some incident related to the central subject, giving that aspect of
concentrated composition so special to Rossetti.

The two years following his marriage (1860-1862) were amongst the
most prolific of Rossetti's life both in ideas and invention. Besides
"Cassandra" he planned the composition for a large picture which was
commissioned but never finished, representing Perseus with the Medusa's
head; and he made the first pencil studies for his famous "Beata
Beatrix."

With 1862 is associated the water-colour, "Bethlehem Gate." It is
also about this time (1861-1862) that the now famous firm of Morris,
Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was established with the co-operation of
William Morris, Faulkner, Burne-Jones, Madox Brown, Webb, and others
as active members.

The idea of the commercial attempt on the artistic lines to reform the
art of decoration and furniture-making was, says Mr. Mackail, largely
due to Madox Brown, but perhaps more to Rossetti, who, in spite of his
artistic qualities, was a very good business man and had the scent of
a trained financier for anything likely to pay. The little band of
original artists and designers took in hand tapestry, furniture, wall
papers, stained-glass, and later on, carpet weaving and dyeing. The
terms under which they worked were very simple. Each member was to be
paid for the work commissioned by the firm, and the profits were to be
divided in a proper ratio at the end.

The new firm had plenty to do owing to the demand for ritual
decorations caused by the Anglo-Catholic movement. Amongst the first
commissions were those for adorning two new churches then being
built--St. Martin-on-the-Hill, Scarborough, and St. Michael at
Brighton. For the first one Rossetti made a design for two pulpit
panels and several windows.

In dealing with stained-glass Rossetti who was specially gifted as
a decorator, understood his medium, and in making his design took
into account all the limitations of the material. He did not seek to
paint a picture on glass, but maintained that idea of a mosaic of
coloured-glass that is seen to so much advantage in the early _vitraux_.

Amongst works designed by him for the firm Morris & Co. the following
may be mentioned: "Adam and Eve," two designs for stained-glass, and
"St. George and the Dragon," six designs for stained-glass. One of
them representing the princess drawing the fatal lot he painted as a
water-colour. "King Rene's Honeymoon," a design for one of four panels
representing the Arts, was done for a gothic cabinet that Mr. J. P.
Seddon ordered from Morris & Co. Rossetti's design for "Music" shows
the king bent over a chamber-organ kissing his bride while she is
playing. He designed also one of the minor panels "Gardening." There is
a water-colour of the same subject under the title of "Spring." "Amor,
Amans, Amata," were three small figures in ovals, done for the back of
a sofa, which Rossetti had made for himself. He kept it for many years
in his house at Chelsea. "Sir Tristran and la Belle Iseult drinking
the Love potion" was a fine design intended to be one of a series of
stained-glass windows. "King Rene's Honeymoon" was done for a series
of stained-glass windows. "The Annunciation" is a design for a window,
quite different from the early version of the same subject. "Threshing"
is a design for a glazed tile. "The Sermon on the Mount" was done for a
memorial window in Christ Church, Albany Street, erected in 1869 to the
memory of his aunt, Miss Polidori.

In either 1861 or 1862 Rossetti designed two illustrations for his
sister Christina's book of poems "Goblin Market." They were engraved on
wood and appear in Messrs. Macmillan's edition.

In May 1861 Mrs. Rossetti gave birth to a still-born child. Her
recovery was slow, and this trouble did not improve her consumptive
tendencies. She suffered, too, from a very severe form of neuralgia,
for which laudanum was prescribed.

On the night of the 11th of February 1862 she took an overdose and
Rossetti, returning home from lecturing at the Working Men's College,
found her dying. In a terrible state of anxiety, after seeking one
doctor after another, he called in Madox Brown for help, but all in
vain. The following morning his wife died, after only two years of
married life. The grief of Rossetti was overwhelming and the touching
scene in which he buried the manuscript of his poems with his beloved
wife has been told many a time.



V


After this tragic event Rossetti could no longer live in the rooms
he had occupied at Chatham Place. He looked for some others, living
meanwhile for a few months in a house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Then he
took a lease of the house at No. 16 Cheyne Walk, sharing it at first
with Swinburne and Meredith. Mr. Meredith did not stay long and after
awhile Mr. Swinburne also gave up his tenancy, leaving Rossetti sole
occupant of the premises.

One of the last works he did before his misfortune, and the last
picture for which his wife sat to him, was the water-colour of "St.
George and the Princess Sabra." For sometime after the blow of his
wife's death he was idle. The first things he did after his recovery
was a crayon portrait of his mother (1862) followed by "The Girl at
a Lattice," "Joan of Arc," and a replica of his early "Paolo and
Francesca."

  [Illustration: PLATE VI.--THE BORGIA FAMILY

    From the water-colour painted in 1873 and lately purchased by the
      South Kensington Museum

  Rossetti first painted this subject in 1851--a smaller size 9½ by 10
  in. It is one of the richest of his small compositions.]

The celebrated picture of "Beata Beatrix," now in the Tate Gallery
is dated 1863, but was finished later, being only partly painted in
that year. In Rossetti's own words the following is a description of
the picture: "The picture illustrates the _Vita Nuova_, embodying
symbolically the death of Beatrice as treated in that work. The
picture is not intended at all to represent death, but to render it
under the semblance of a trance in which Beatrice, seated at a balcony
overlooking the city, is suddenly rapt from earth to heaven...."

The whole strikes a sombre note apart from its symbolic representation
through its delicious purple harmony. The city in the sunset light
in the distance, supposed to be Florence, is very like London in
atmospheric effect. Beatrice is seen sitting at the balcony against
the sunset background, with the light playing round her golden auburn
hair, in fashion suggesting an aureole. She is dressed in green with
dull purple sleeves. A bright red bird holding in its beak a dim purple
poppy, emblem of death, is flying towards her. In the misty distance
the figures of Dante and Love are watching her. Rossetti painted in
1872 a replica of that picture, adding to the main subject the meeting
of Dante and Beatrice in Paradise, with maidens bearing instruments
of music. He was rather reluctant to send out that replica, but the
unwillingness was overcome. He painted several others, none of them
being equal in quality to the original.

In 1863 Rossetti painted an oil picture called "Helen of Troy," and the
last of the St. George subjects, representing St. George killing the
dragon, which is a water-colour version of the stained-glass series.
Then come three small subjects, "Belcolore," a girl in a circular frame
biting a rosebud. Of this there is a red chalk study and a water-colour
version, "Brimfull," a water-colour showing a lady stooping to sip
from a full glass, and a picture called "A Lady in Yellow."

Rossetti now gave up painting those quaint little romantic subjects
so intense in literary feeling and dramatic expression, and devoted
himself to large single figures upon a background of rich accessories.

When a painter makes a single figure the central interest of his
picture, he must, to a certain extent, avail himself of psychological
facts in the model before him, for if he recognises no limits to the
foreign sentiment and character he may impose, he will, little by
little, fall to the creation of a type which is not far short of a
monstrosity. Although the first of his pictures in this new style
are among his finest works we see this inevitable degeneration in
Rossetti's latest paintings.

The first pictures of this kind and some of the best are, "Fazio's
Mistress," and "Lady Lilith." The former is dated 1863, but was
altered and repainted ten years later, and Rossetti changed its
title to "Aurelia." In 1864 he painted the latter which is a modern
conception of that first wife of Adam mentioned in the old Talmudic
Legend. The Lady Lilith is seated against a background covered with
roses. Dressed in white, she holds a mirror in her hand, and combs her
long fair hair. Although dated 1864 it was really not finished until
1867. The face as it is now was repainted in 1873 from a different
model, and is said to be quite inferior to the former one. Rossetti at
that time seemed to be a victim of a mania for repainting his earlier
work.

The next great picture, begun in 1864, is "Venus Verticordia," the oil
version of which was not finished before 1868. It represents the nude
bust of a massively built woman surrounded by roses and honeysuckle.
She holds an arrow in her right hand and in the left an apple on which
a yellow butterfly has alighted. The face is conventionally pretty and
lacks character.

"Morning Music," an elaborate little water-colour; "Monna Pomona," a
girl holding an apple with roses on her lap and in a basket at her
side; "How Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Percival received the Holy
Grael" (done in his earlier manner); "Roman de la Rose," a water-colour
version of the earlier panel, and "The Madness of Ophelia," represent
the remaining production of 1864.

There is little to mention in 1865. The most important productions
of that year were "The Blue Bower," and "The Merciless Lady." In the
"Merciless Lady," a water-colour in the style of his earlier romantic
manner, a man sits on a bank of turf between two maidens, with a sunlit
meadow behind. He seems attracted by the one on his left who is fair
and plays a lute, the other, his lady love, holds his hand and with a
sad expression tries to win him back to her. "A Fight for a Woman,"
the composition of which is of a very early date, and the oil-painting,
"Bella e Buona," but renamed "Il Ramoscello," were also painted in 1865.

After these came "The Beloved," finished in 1866, but worked again in
1873, this time without being spoiled. In writing to the owner of this
picture Rossetti said: "I mean it to be like jewels," and he carried
out his intention. In the middle of the picture is the fair-haired
bride radiant in rich stuffs, her gown is green, with large sleeves
embroidered in gold and red. She is surrounded by four dark-haired
maidens, on the foreground a little negro, adorned with a head-band
and a necklace showing the beautiful invention of Rossetti's taste in
decorative art, is holding a golden vase of roses.

Next comes the "Monna Vanna," which represents a lady dressed in a
magnificent embroidered robe with large sleeves, holding a fan of
black and yellow plumes. Her luxuriant hair is falling from each side
of her face on to her shoulders, a bunch of roses is seen in a vase on
the left top corner of the picture.

"The Sibylla Palmifera," and "Monna Vanna," were not completed before
1870. The latter represents a Sibyl sitting underneath a stone canopy,
which is carved on one side with a cupid's head wreathed with roses,
and on the other with a skull crowned with red poppies. The Sibyl is
clad in crimson, her brown hair is parted and falling each side of
her face, a green coif spreads from her head over her shoulder and
she holds a palm-leaf in her hand. There is a replica of the head of
"Sibylla Palmifera." In the same year (1866) he painted in oils a
portrait of his mother, and made a large crayon drawing of his sister
Christina. He also made two illustrations for her volume of poems, "The
Prince's Progress."

In 1867 Rossetti painted in oils "The Christmas Carol," of which
a crayon study exists; "Monna Rosa," and the "Loving Cup." For the
water-colour, "The Return of Tibullus to Delia," there are numerous
sketches made from Miss Siddal sitting on a couch biting a tress of
her hair, which show that the design must have been of a much earlier
date. The water-colours, "Aurora," "Tessa la Bionda;" the crayons,
"Magdalene," "Peace," "Contemplation," and the crayon replica, "Venus
Verticordia," bear the same date.

Unfortunately about this time Rossetti began to have serious trouble
with his eyesight, and had probably to reduce his hours of work.
All the same in 1868 he painted a portrait of Mrs. Morris, who has
kindly lent it to the Tate Gallery, where it can now be seen. Several
chalk crayon studies have been done for this portrait. Then he began
the picture of "The Daydream," representing Mrs. Morris sitting on
the lower branches of a sycamore tree, a replica in water-colour
of "Bocca Baciate," called "Bionda del Balcone"; "The Rose," a
water-colour; a crayon drawing, "Aurea Catena," some studies for "La
Pia," which was begun about this time, and a water-colour replica of
"Venus Verticordia."

  [Illustration: PLATE VII.--DANTE'S DREAM

    From the oil painting (7 ft. 1 by 10 ft. 6½) now in the Walker
      Art Gallery, Liverpool

  This picture which is considered by some to be Rossetti's most
  important work, illustrates the following passage in the Vita Nuova:

    "Then my heart that was so full of love said unto me: 'Is it true
    that our lady lieth dead'; and it seemed to me that I went to look
    upon the body wherein that blessed and most noble spirit had had its
    abiding-place. And so strong was this idle imagining, that it made
    me behold my lady in death, whose head certain ladies seemed to be
    covering with a white veil."

  This picture, painted in 1871, passed through several hands and was
  taken back by Rossetti from Mr. Valpy, on account of its large size
  in exchange for several smaller works. It was eventually bought by
  the Liverpool corporation.

  Rossetti first treated this subject in a little water-colour painted
  for Miss Heaton in 1856.]

Rossetti had now reached his fortieth year and for about a twelvemonth
had been suffering from insomnia. This was the cause of the break-up of
his health, for to gain relief he acquired the habit of taking chloral,
a drug of which the properties were then little known.



VI


During a visit to Penkill the thought of publishing his early poems
occurred to him. Towards the end of 1869 he was busy with their
preparation. Some of them were in circulation in manuscript in a more
or less finished condition and some others were buried with his wife.
As a relief from the strain of painting he began to write again. "The
Ballad of Troy Town," part of "Eden Bower," and the "Stream's Secret,"
were among the new poems. He thought at first to collect as many of
the earlier works as he could remember, together with those of which
friends had manuscript copies, and to have them set up in type as the
foundation of a possible volume. But he was persuaded with difficulty
to apply for permission to open the grave of his wife in order to
recover the buried manuscript. In 1870 the book, under the title,
"Poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti," was published by Mr. F. S. Ellis,
then in King Street, Covent Garden. Round Rossetti and his buried poems
a sort of legend had been growing up which, aided by his fame as a
painter, guarded his work against the indifference with which a volume
of verses by an unknown poet is bound to be received. The book proved
a great success and within a week or two Rossetti found himself in
possession of £300.

This success was not achieved without raising some jealousy. Mr.
Buchanan, under the pseudonym of "Thomas Maitland" rushed into print
with the damning essay that appeared in the _Contemporary Review_
for October 1871, under the title "The Fleshly School of Poetry."
This attack was repeated by the same writer in a pamphlet. Rossetti
in ill health and suffering from nervous fancies, considered that
there was a conspiracy against him, a view that, had his health been
stronger, he would not perhaps have adopted. The publication of the
article aggravated his insomnia. Dr. Gordon Hake offered him his
house at Roehampton in order to procure a change for the sufferer,
who either by accident or of set purpose had taken the contents of a
phial of laudanum, and lay for two days between life and death. Prompt
treatment, and his strong constitution helped recovery. He was taken
to Scotland where he resumed work on a replica of "Beata Beatrix."
Out-of-door exercise, early hours, and absence of worries, helped a
great deal to bring about his partial recovery. In September 1872 he
left Scotland and went to Kelmscott where he shared a fine Elizabethan
manor house with William Morris.

His work during 1872-1874 consisted mostly in repainting many of his
earlier pictures. He worked again on "Lilith," "Beloved," "Monna
Vanna," and others. In July 1874 he left Kelmscott and came back to
London, never to return to the quiet manor house, which from this time
was in possession of Morris alone.

Besides retouching his earlier work during the time of his stay at
Kelmscott, Rossetti started a number of new canvases, and made a
certain number of studies for use in future work. Among them are: "Rosa
Triplex," three heads from the same sitter, Miss May Morris. This
drawing is one of four or five versions. A portrait in red chalk on
grey-green paper of Mrs. W. J. Stillman, "La Donna de la Fiamma," and
"Silence," probably studies for pictures never painted, the little head
of a lady holding a small branch of rose-leaves called "Rose-leaf."
"Mariana," an oil painting, its title taken from a scene of "Measure
for Measure," and "A Lady with a Fan," being a portrait of Mrs. Schott,
were all prepared about this time. He also started the first studies
for his big picture, "Dante's Dream," among them a study from Mrs.
Morris for the head of the dead Beatrice, a head of Dante, and studies
for the two maidens holding the pall. "Troy Town," after his own
ballad, and "The Death of Lady Macbeth," are two designs for pictures
never painted. "Pandora" was completed in 1871. "Water Willow," a
portrait of Mrs. Morris is specially interesting because the river
landscape behind represents Kelmscott. A coloured chalk study for that
picture exists, the only difference between the portrait and the study
being that the background of the latter represents a river without
the view of Kelmscott. The "Dante's Dream" begun in 1870 was finished
towards the end of 1871. It is the largest picture Rossetti ever
painted, the subject is that of the early water-colour of 1856, and the
picture illustrates the following:

    "Then Love spoke thus: 'Now all shall be made clear;
    Come and behold our lady where she lies.'

           *       *       *       *       *

    Then carried me to see my lady dead;
    And standing at her head
    Her ladies put a veil over her;
    And with her was such very humbleness
    That she appeared to say, 'I am at peace.'"

In the composition Dante is led by Love to where Beatrice lies dead,
and Love bends down to kiss her. On either side of the bier where she
lies, two maidens dressed in green are holding a pall covered with May
flowers and the floor is strewed with poppies, emblem of death. On each
side of the picture there are winding staircases through which one sees
the sunny streets of Florence. Love is dressed in flame colour and
birds of the same hue are flying about to suggest that the place is
filled with the Spirit of Love.

Proserpine was the next picture Rossetti undertook. It was begun on
four canvases. The fourth when finished was sold. Rossetti, who at
that time had assistants to help him in making the replicas of his
earlier work, painted to satisfy the demand of his patrons, and much
controversy raged round this picture. It is impossible to say if it
was entirely painted by him, but he owned to it although it was not
a good one. The purchaser was dissatisfied so he agreed to take it
back. The three unfinished versions were cut down and transformed into
heads, one of which, with the adding of some floral accessories, and a
slight change in the hands, was called "Blanziflore" or "Snowdrops."
One cannot help being a little puzzled by the notion of beginning four
canvases of the same picture at the same time, it suggests too much of
the commercial spirit.

In 1872 "Veronica Veronese," and the "Bower Meadow," were painted, the
former illustrating the following lines, supposed to be a quotation
taken from Girolamo Ridolfi's letters which are inscribed on the frame:

"Se penchant vivement la Véronica jeta les premières notes sur la
feuille vierge. Ensuite elle prit l'archet du violon pour réaliser
son rêve; mais avant de décrocher l'instrument suspendu, elle resta
quelques instants immobile en écoutant l'oiseau inspirateur, pendant
que sa main gauche errait sur les cordes cherchant le motif suprême
encore éloigné. C'était le mariage des voix de la nature et de
l'âme--l'aube d'une création mystique."

The Lady Veronica, dressed in green, is sitting in front of a little
table on which is her music manuscript. Behind her on the left-hand top
corner is a canary perched on a cage and at her side stands a glass
of daffodils. She is leaning forward as if listening to the bird,
plucking with her left hand the strings of a violin hanging on the wall
in front of her while she holds the bow in her right hand.

  [Illustration: PLATE VIII.--ASTARTE SYRIACA

    From the oil painting (74 in. by 43 in.) now in the Corporation
      Art Gallery at Manchester

  This picture was painted for Mr. Clarence Fry of the firm Elliot and
  Fry, in 1877 and was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1883.]

The "Bower Meadow" represents two women playing instruments and two
dancing figures, for which he made charming crayon studies. All these
figures were painted on an old background study of trees and foliage
he had painted in 1850, in his Pre-Raphaelite days when he was working
with Holman Hunt.

The next great oil canvas is dated 1873, and is called "The
Ghirlandata." To this year belongs "Ligeia Siren," a drawing of a
sea-maiden playing on a musical instrument, a preliminary study for
"Sea Spell."

"The Damsel of the Sanc Grael" was painted in 1874; it is a second
version of that subject strangely showing the psychological change in
Rossetti. The primitive simplicity so characteristic of the mediæval
legend and also of his early work has disappeared. The austere damsel
has become a "pretty" girl, with fair flowing hair, who holds a goblet.
The unfinished "Boat of Love" was also begun in 1874. Rossetti came
back to London in that year as has already been stated.

The dissolution of the firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. took
place at that time and was reconstituted under the sole management of
Morris. The dissolution did not take place without a certain amount
of friction, caused by the disagreement between Morris and Brown.
Rossetti seems to have taken Brown's part, and although Rossetti and
Morris did not quarrel, they saw very little of one another from that
date. But it is well to remember that Rossetti lived a very secluded
life, seeing very few people and labouring under the delusion that a
widespread conspiracy existed against him. This was apparently one of
the hallucinations resulting from the habitual use of chloral.

The end of 1875 and beginning of 1876 were passed first in a house
at Bognor and after at a friend's in Hampshire. The artist was then
working on his pictures, "The Blessed Damozel," "The Spirit of the
Rainbow," and "Forced Music."

In 1877 serious illness kept him two months in bed, and when better
he was taken to a little cottage near Herne Bay. There he was able to
resume his work and drew a crayon group of his mother and sister as
well as two separate drawings of his sister and one of his mother. To
that year belongs the "Astarte Syriaca" (now in the Corporation Art
Gallery of Manchester). The Syrian Venus stands against a red sunset
sky in which the moon is rising, gazing full face, with large dreamy
eyes. On the right and left two angel figures, holding torches, look
upwards.

In that year the Grosvenor Gallery was founded and Madox Brown,
Rossetti, and Burne-Jones were asked to exhibit. Madox Brown and
Rossetti refused, but Burne-Jones accepted. The exhibition of his work
there brought him the enormous popularity he enjoyed. Down to that
time the public curiosity which had been roused by the controversies
following the forming of the P.R.B. had not been satisfied.



VII


After 1877 Rossetti kept strictly to his house at 16 Cheyne Walk
visited only by a few faithful friends.

He began to write again in 1878. By March 1881 he had enough material
for a new volume, "Ballads and Sonnets," the MS. of which was offered
to and accepted by Messrs. Ellis & White on the same terms as his first
book, now out of print after running into a sixth edition. The "Ballads
and Sonnets" met with quite as great success as the earlier volume,
this time without any discordant note of criticism. In this year
Rossetti sold his great picture of "Dante's Dream" to the Corporation
of Liverpool.

The two finished works of 1878 are: "A Vision of Fiametta," and a
water-colour called "Bruna Brunelleschi." To that year must be added
the unfinished design called "Desdemona's Death Song," various studies
for the figure of Desdemona, a design of the entire composition done
on a scale about half-life size, as well as a beginning of the picture
on canvas, which was not continued. The Faust subject that he intended
to paint, "Gretchen, or Risen at Dawn," was not more advanced. As time
went on and his health failed his output diminished.

In 1879 Rossetti painted a replica of the "Blessed Damozel" with its
predella, changing the background of lovers and substituting two
angels' heads. "La Donna de la Fenestra" was also completed in that
year.

In 1880 and 1881 Rossetti was working on three large pictures, "The
Day Dream," "The Salutation of Beatrice," and "La Pia," as well as on
"Found," the early attempt at a modern subject that he was never able
to finish. He painted several replicas, the most important being a
smaller version of "Dante's Dream." The "Daydream" begun in 1868 was
also completed at this time and the picture has since been given to the
South Kensington Museum by its owner Mr. Ionidès. "The Salutation of
Beatrice" is quite different from the earlier design of the same name
and shows those defects of his later work that we have pointed out; it
was not quite finished at the time of his death. "La Pia" is the last
picture painted and shows the same faults as the last mentioned.

In September 1881 Rossetti went for a trip in the lake district of
Cumberland accompanied by Mr. Hall Caine, but after a month his health
grew worse and he returned in haste to London. A few days later he
became so ill that he required very careful nursing. After a partial
recovery from this illness he was once more interrupted in his work
by an attack of nervous paralysis, which seized him suddenly. This
last attack was due to the chloral he had been in the habit of taking
for so long and it was then strictly forbidden. The habit of so many
years was not to be broken without much discomfort and suffering, but
he gradually got better. As soon as he was well enough he was taken to
Birchington-on-Sea in February 1882, there he managed to work a little,
but was soon attacked by an old disorder, and in his weakened state
of health he could not throw it off. He grew weaker and worse. Death
came with the 10th of April 1882, and the painter poet is buried in the
little churchyard of Birchington.

In the last days of his life, when he could paint no more, he made an
attempt to finish the story of "St. Agnes of Intercession" which was
begun for the "Germ," he also completed the ballad of "Jan Van Hunks,"
and wrote a couple of sonnets for his drawing called the "Question."

Most of the critics who have written on Rossetti deplore the fact that
he did not learn to paint, but to artists one of the greatest charms
of his pictures (especially the early ones) is the unexpectedness of
their composition. We owe that charm in a great measure to the fact
that happily he had not been spoiled by the sophisticated teaching of
Academic Schools, but had kept the bloom of his poetical inspiration.
We must thank the instinct of the young man, which made him avoid a
teaching which is bound to be fatal to both realism and romanticism. It
may be that he himself deplored the lack of training at certain moments
of discouragement in his life, but the kind of training available at
the time of his début would not have added much to his achievement. He
managed to say what he had to say, and in many cases to say it well.
He saved himself the loss of time necessary to forget certain of the
artistic préjugés then in vogue, they would have been very much in his
way, even if he had quite succeeded in getting rid of them. The rather
amateurish side to Rossetti's art is vastly compensated for by the
precious qualities he has been able to preserve.

It is unfortunate that, through his refusal to exhibit, the public has
been acquainted first with his later work, which shows the decline of
his faculties caused by his ill health. Neither the fresh creations of
his early work nor the gorgeous pieces of his middle period are as well
known as they deserve to be.

As a young man Rossetti possessed an extraordinary influence over the
members of the group round him. Later when his work became less sincere
his influence declined and what promised to be at the beginning a great
renaissance of the English School has ended with him. Such a disaster
is certain to befall the school or the artists who do not refresh
themselves continually by the "communion" with nature. Ruskin says in
his Pre-Raphaelitism: "If they adhere to their principles, and paint
nature as it is around them, with the help of modern science, with the
earnestness of the men of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
they will, as I said, found a new and noble school in England. If
their sympathies with the early artists lead them into mediævalism
or Romanism, they will of course come to nothing." These words were
prophetic.


  The plates are printed by BEMROSE & SONS, LTD., Derby and London
  The text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, Edinburgh



Transcriber's Note


Text in italics was surrounded by _underscores_ and text in small
capitals was changed to all capitals.

A few apparently missing periods were added. Otherwise the original was
preserved.





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