Rossetti, Dante Gabriel BiographyEnglish poet and painter who was a leading member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood devoted to reviving English art through medieval inspiration. He was born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti in London, son of the Italian-born poet Gabriele Rossetti and brother of the poet Christina Rossetti. He was educated at King's College and the Royal Academy in London. At the academy he met the painters Sir John Everett Millais and Holman Hunt, with whom he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (see Pre-Raphaelites). Rossetti was strongly attracted to the dramatic and the supernatural, both of which are represented in his work. Among his earliest paintings was a scene of the annunciation, Ecce Ancilla Domini (The Annunciation,1850, Tate Gallery, London). His art subsequently developed through other phases, in which the sense of human beauty, intensity of abstract expression, and richness of color were leading elements.
Rossetti's later years were marred by sorrow and depression, relieved only by his creative outlets. In 1860 he had married a milliner, Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, whose beauty he immortalized in many of his best-known paintings, such as Mary Magdalene at the House of Simon the Pharisee (1858, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). Within two years Elizabeth died, and Rossetti was grief stricken by the tragedy.
Rossetti continued to produce paintings and poems until late in his life. Of his later oil paintings, which are murky and dreamlike, two of the best known are Dante's Dream (1871, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) and Proserpina (1874, Tate Gallery, London).
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