Dante Gabriel RossettiBeata Beatrix c.1864-70

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Artwork details

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828‑1882)
Beata Beatrix
Date c.1864-70
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 864 x 660 mm frame: 1212 x 1015 x 104 mm
Acquisition Presented by Georgiana, Baroness Mount-Temple in memory of her husband, Francis, Baron Mount-Temple 1889
On loan to Palazzo Chiablese (Turin, Italy)


Rossetti draws a parallel in this picture between the Italian poet Dante's despair at the death of his beloved Beatrice and his own grief at the death of his wife Elizabeth Siddal, who died on 11 February 1862. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) recounted the story of his unrequited love and subsequent mourning for Beatrice Portinari in the Vita Nuova. This was Rossetti's first English translation and appeared in 1864 as part of his own publication, The Early Italian Poets.

The picture is a portrait of Elizabeth Siddall in the character of Beatrice. It has a hazy, transcendental quality, giving the sensation of a dream or vision, and is filled with symbolic references. Rossetti intended to represent her, not at the moment of death, but transformed by a 'sudden spiritual transfiguration' (Rossetti, in a letter of 1873, quoted in Wilson, p.86). She is posed in an attitude of ecstasy, with her hands before her and her lips parted, as if she is about to receive Communion. According to Rossetti's friend F.G… (read more)