La Bella Mano by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
In 1912, one of the America's art museums with a particular focus on the art of American origin and English Pre-Raphaelites period in the 19th century opened its doors in Wilmington city. Delaware Art Museum is home to over 12,000 works of art and has some of the finest works of art from the British Pre-Raphaelite in the 19th century up to the 21st century ("British Pre-Raphaelites: Delaware Art Museum," n.d.). Dante Gabriel Rossetti founded the Pre-Raphaelite movement that coded as a brotherhood. Primarily, their works of art were inspired by elements or characters of literature like Shakespear and the Bible. Legends of Arthurian also profoundly influenced the art during this period (Wodehouse, 1966, p. 57). Illustrations of women beauty and seduction dominated the works of Rossetti (Cruise, 2004, p. 46). In this paper, I will describe three mid-19th century works of art that are held by the Museum namely: La Bella Mano, Lady Lilith, and Found. The Pre-Raphelites artists developed a new approach to art during their time that was contrary to conventional practices.
The first painting, the La bella Mano piece, was painted in 1875 using oil on a canvas of approximately 62 by 46 inches depicting Venus, a symbolic figure of love in the company of two winged attendants. The painter creates a halo effect using the convex mirror which shows the reflection of a bed interpreted as an enticement of a prospective lover. However, there is an implied impression of a superabundance of material possessions compressed in the reflection of things like silver shelves and fire. The artist uses a delicate, smooth texture to color the jewelry, the carvings, the feathers on the attendants and the leaves in the vase. Also, Dante manipulates light develop supernatural angel-like images of the attendants and manifest the anxiety of the Victorian boudoir woman who expects a lover. Rosetti impressively employs shades and light to create the La Bella Mano which tries to express the link between the natural and supernatural world blending it with the theme of love.
Lady Lilith by Dante Rossetti
Lilith oil painting also was done on a canvas and is a representation of Judaism based literature that correlates with the Biblical story of creation in that the lady in the painting represents the first wife of Adam. She is richly dressed in a seductive attire that exposes her neckline to symbolize the seductive nature of women associated with power and evil characteristic of murdering children. The image of the woman is iconic showing long-flowing hair. The painter intentionally includes a deadly poppy plant flower to show the critical nature of women. The mirror the woman holds demonstrates how women during this period contemplated their personal beauty.
The painting captures the sensual characteristic of women and beauty to reveal the complex nature of womanhood during the Pre-Raphaelite era.
Found by Dante Rossetti
Found painting is a depiction of a countryman on his way to the market to sell his sheep who stops to help a woman stand. The creative use of pale shades on the face of the woman creates a depiction of illness. The man presented as offering a supporting hand to the woman. The use a rough texture in the background helps to create the image of the market city. The floral dots done in a fading shadow represents the poor state of her health. The theme of urbanism, prostitution, and love. The woman keeps her face from the man to show shame. The painting represents an accurate picture of a London street at dawn, depicted by lights on the bridge from a distance. The man has found his love in the streets the image capture a relationship that exists between the man and woman.
The three painting collectively depicts womanhood in the Pre-Raphael period in the Middle Ages and captures a description of women during this time. Dante Rossetti paints the middle-age period on the themes of love, beauty, and promiscuity of the Pre-Raphael Woman.
British Pre-Raphaelites: Delaware Art Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.delart.org/collections/british-pre-raphaelites/
Cruise, C. (2004). The pre-eminent Pre-Raphaelite: Revisiting Rossetti. The Art Book, 11(4), 4-7. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8357.2004. 00458.x
Wodehouse, L. (1966). "New Path" and the American Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Art Journal, 25(4), 351. doi:10.2307/774953
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