Painter/Artist: Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti

British School. The son of Italian parents. Studied at the Academy schools with Millais and Holman Hunt, with whom and one or two others he formed the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood,” profoundly affecting the subsequent developments of British painting.


ECCE ANCILLA DOMINI The simplest representation of the Annunciation. In the corner of a small room with whitewashed walls on the right the Virgin-the painter’s sister, Christina Rossetti-in a white linen garment sits half raised from her bed. By her side stands the Angel Gabriel in white, a lily branch in his right hand, and raises his left in salutation. At the head of the bed is a blue curtain; at the foot an embroidered stole hangs from a frame; in the background is an open window through which the Holy Spirit enters as a dove.

Signed and dated 1850.Purchased in 1886.

BEATA BEATRIX Dante’s Beatrice, in a plum-coloured robe and bright green tunic, sits on a balcony on which is a sundial. In the distance is a bridge across the Arno. “The picture illustrates the Vita Nuova,” the painter wrote, ” embodying symbolically the death of Beatrice as treated in that work. The picture is not at all intended to represent death, but to render it under the semblance of a trance in which Beatrice is suddenly rapt from earth to heaven. You will remember how Dante dwells on the desolation of the city in connection with the incident of her death, and for this reason I have introduced it as my background, and made the figure of Dante and Love passing through the street and gazing ominously at one another, conscious of the event; while the bird, a messenger of death, drops the poppy between the hands of Beatrice. She, through her shut lids, is conscious of a new world.”

Commenced in 1863 in memory of his dead wife, whose features are given to Beatrice.

Presented by Georgina, Lady Mount Temple, in 1889.