La Ghirlandata Dante Gabriel Rossetti Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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La Ghirlandata is Italian for The Garland; an expression Dante Gabrielle Rossetti used to describe the lady in the painting. The name Garland is used in explaining someone who is both beautiful and lovely. Originally, the name was translated by Dante Gabrielle’s brother to "The Lady of the Wreath."

The lady in the painting is Alexa Wilding, an actor and model, while the two “angels” were May Morris and Jane Morris. The painting was done in 1873 at the Klemscott Manor. Currently, all rights to the painting are held by the Guildhall Art Gallery in London, United Kingdom. It is a painting drawn on canvas using oil. It shows a beautiful lady playing the harp, as two angels listen and protects her. During the time, a harp was an instrument used to express love with its melodic tunes. A painting of a woman and a harp could only mean love and beauty; an explanation of the painting’s identity.

The two angels leaning to listen can be interpreted as protection or favour from God, or both. The flowers all-round the lady denotes colour and beauty. Gabrielle Rossetti, at the point of drawing, was in high spirits for such proclamation of love. La Ghirlandata was his way of showing affection to women who showed compassion to him at the lowest moment in his artistic journey. The period when this painting was drawn, Gabrielle Rossetti's influence was on women and musical instruments; a sensation he picked when living at Klemscott Manor. Others in this collection included The Blessed Damozel (1871-1878), Pia de’ Tolomei (1868-1880), Proserpine (1874), Vision of Fiammetta (1878) among others.

His first painting was The Girlhood of Mary (1849) followed by Ecce Ancilla Domini (1850). With time, he grew to be a budding painter and was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group that supported art, poetry and painting. Despite this, he later developed affections for the Symbolists movement; a group he later led. Thanks to his pupillage at the Henry Sass Drawing Academy and the Royal Academy, Dante is credited for his progressive stand towards arts in the United Kingdom. John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Phoebe Anna Traquair credit their artistic prowess to Dante.