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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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Dante Gabriel Rossetti's paintings were as influential as any other medium in which he was involved although he rarely exhibited publicly after an over-sensitive reaction to some early critical reviews.

First and foremost, his work was significant within the sphere of British art in the years during and just after his career took hold. The notable movements of the Pre-Raphaelites, Arts and Crafts and Aestheticists were all impacted by the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and it is his paintings that continue to receive the most focus in the modern era.

The dominance of oil painters within art history has ensured that, on occasion, some of Rossetti's other contributions have been forgotten. The same can be said for fellow-artist, Edward Burne-Jones, he himself was proficient in designing stained-glass windows, drawing and tapestries. Yet we continue to hear most about his oil paintings when his career is displayed in exhibitions across the country. This section of the site focuses entirely on his work with watercolours and oils, both of which he used regularly. The main highlights from his career in this medium are listed below, with further information available on each individual artwork.

Rossetti is remembered most famously for being one of the co-founders of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, alongside the likes of William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. His influence within this group would then impact and inspire the next generation that followed soon after, including the likes of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. When considering all of this, it is clear that his legacy was particularly important across British art and his work was also admired by some in continental Europe, including the European Symbolists.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti worked hard within the established mediums of watercolour and oil painting to innovate on the techniques that already existed. He contributed several unique approaches within both of these forms of painting by experimenting with different brushes and materials. Some of his trials would not work, others he would hone over many years and make use of on a regular basis. This helped him to broaden his options when putting together new compositions and also differentiate his work from other artists with whom he shared a similar style.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement as a whole was famous for depicting pale skinned, slim young women and Rossetti himself had several favourite muses who he would use repeatedly. The personal lives of many of these artists and their work would overlap on countless occasions, to the point where the two were impossible to distinguish from each other. Some of the models would be existing family members or close friends, for example. Alternatively, their relationships with the artists could develop into a romance which would have felt very much in tune with the whole Pre-Raphaelite mantra.