I have avoided writing too much on the Pre Raphaelites as 1. I am a complete bore about this subject and 2. there are much better blogs than mine out there on the subject but as I am off to Liverpool for their PreRaphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, I couldn’t resist adding my favourite Rossetti oil painting to the blog.
The original Beata Beatrix (Blessed Beatrice) is in the Tate. Completed in 1870, Rossetti put onto canvas his feelings about his late wife, Elizabeth Siddle. The painting shows Bestrice at the moment of her death with the red dove symbolising the passing of a life and the white poppy related to Lizzie’s death by laudanum poisoning.
Rosstti was asked to replicate the painting and this photograph is of the one in the Birminam Museum & Art Gallery, which is naturally my favourite! Here the colour of the dove and poppy is reversed and there is a scene of Florence in the background where Dante and Beatrice met. The painting was unfinished at the time of Rossetti’s death and it was finished by his friend, Ford Madox Brown.
There is an irony here in that while Rossetti used this ideal representation of love to show his love for Lizzie, it is interesting to think I’ll be seeing another representation of Beatrice today in the form of Jane Morris in Salutation of Beatrice. Perhaps love is not everlasting after all!
For more on the story of Dante and Beatrice: http://fascinatinghistory.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/dante-and-beatrice.html