Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in London on May 12, 1828. His father was an Italian refugee and came to London, where he became professor of Italian at King’s College. His father was a highly cultured man and had something of a poet. Rossetti’s mother was half English and half Italian. She was very fond of literature and highly cultured. Quite early in life, Dante Gabriel Rossetti showed his talent both as an artist and as a poet. In 1836 he went to a day school in Poland Place and to King’s College where he remained till 1842.
Wishing to be an artist, Rossetti joined a drawing academy in Broosbury at the age of sixteen in 1846. In the same year, he became acquainted with Holman Hunt and Millais and this led to the formation of the famous Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, a School of Artists, which identified itself with the ideals and methods of the Italian painters before Raphael. Rossetti began his career as a painter with unflinching realism, which later on was enriched with his plastic imagination through symbolism and medievalism.
While producing the most original works of painting, Rossetti wrote a good deal of his best poems, published in the magazine of the Brotherhood called The Germ.
Between 1860 and 1870, Rossetti was in the zenith of his fame. During that period, he became acquainted with A.C.Swinburne, George Meredith, and William Morris, who acknowledged him as their leader. But Rossetti became a drug addict. That ruined his temper and health. His marriage with Ellanor Siddel, which was celebrated after nine years of courtship in 1860, was not very happy owing to his morbid melancholy, self-will, and drug habit. Mrs. Rossetti was very frail in health with a consumptive tendency and died from an overdose of laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of opium) in 1862. In his excessive grief, Rossetti, buried his unpublished works in his wife’s grave, which was, however, opened seven years later and published as poems by D. G. Rossetti. After a period of considerable mental and physical suffering, Rossetti died in 1882.
Rossetti’s chief works are
- The Blessed Damozel,
- The Bride’s Prelude,
- The House of Life,
- The Burden of Ninevah,
- Dante and his Circle etc.
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