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Pre-Raphaelite Women and the Search for Meaning in the Work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Jane Morris and The Myth of Proserpine - Essay Example

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Pre-Raphaelite Women and the Search for Meaning in the Work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Jane Morris and The Myth of Proserpine

The Pre-Raphaelite artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, and Edward Burne-Jones attempted to unearth the enigmatic feminine scope of Victorian women in art. Jan Marsh notes, ‘The metaphors and fantasies of art are not be identified as the behaviour and feelings of real life, especially where the Pre-Raphaelite women were concerned.’1 Thesis statement: The work Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti represents the Pre-Raphaelite women within the context of Victorian women, which is the dark and enigmatic feminine, because the work is related to the artist’s personal relationship with the model (Jane Morris), expression of his artistic creativity (painting and poetry), Greek mythology, and the characteristics of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood/Movement in general. Pre-Raphaelite Movement and portrayal of women as dark and enigmatic feminine As pointed out, Pre-Raphaelite Movement provided ample importance to the portrayal of women as dark and enigmatic feminine. This is important within the context of the Victorian society because the womenfolk were forced to undergo a number of social restrictions. During this age, women were expected to be loyal to their husbands, and their role in the society was strictly limited to the context of their private domain/family. Kali Israel states that, ‘Moreover, Pre-Raphaelite men and women alike participated in a larger project infused with gendered meanings: Considering the relations between the aesthetic and daily life in an increasingly industrial society.’2 Besides, their duty towards their husband and their family limited their upward mobility to the public domain of the mainstream society. To be specific, women in the Victorian era were expected to live according to the strict rules and regulations formulated by the society. Within this scenario, Rossetti’s portrayal of women in his works as dark and enigmatic feminine is utmost important because it declined the restrictions upon the womenfolk in the society. Rossetti’s works (paintings and poems) represent the protest against the restrictions exerted upon the womenfolk in the Victorian age. To be specific, the third phase in Rossetti’s life as an artist is symbolic of his changed opinion/view on artistic creativity. During this period (say, from 1863 to 1882), he made use of his artistic creativity to portray women as dark and enigmatic feminine. One can argue that Rossetti’s works during this period were based upon his imagination, not upon his models. Still, he made use of his women models as an instrument to gain inspiration and to expose the unexplored characteristics of Victorian women. On the other side, the poems attached to the artworks are symbolic of his attachment to the models. He considered that the poems and the artworks are inseparable like body and soul. During this period, Rossetti reassessed his relationship with art and came to realize the fact that his works must not be mere copies, but must express his creativity as an artist. So, Rossetti’s later works are symbolic of his change in attitude towards art. When this change is superimposed into the context of Victorian women, one can easily identify that Rossetti’s works does not follow the core element of Pre-Raphaelitism, i.e. imitation of nature through art. So, Rossetti and some other Pre-Raphaelites ...Show more
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Pre-Raphaelite Women and the Search for Meaning in the Work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Jane Morris and The Myth of Proserpine Art, the overflow of unrestricted imagination is deeply influenced by an artist’s personal experiences and social characteristics of a particular era…
Pre-Raphaelite Women and the Search for Meaning in the Work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Jane Morris and The Myth of Proserpine
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