Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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What is your critical comment about Dante Gabriel Rossetti?

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A critical appreciation of the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti might examine the way his appreciation of medieval ideals is reflected in both his art and poetry.

Rossetti was first an artist, and his paintings embody a mystical appreciation of nature and the use of vivid colors to convey intimate details. In his painting "Proserpine," for example, the subject holds a pomegranate in her hand as ivy dangles in the background. Ivy is often thought to symbolize persistent memories, which is likely reflected in the vacant look of the woman's eyes. She wears a textured dress that catches the natural lighting and contrasts with her vibrant red hair. This painting reflects the doomed fate of Proserpine, an effect of that single bite missing from the pomegranate. This painting is typical of Rossetti's paintings, which often employed symbolic meanings of natural objects to present some fundamental truth inherent in the experience of living.

His poetry often reflected these same ideals of mysticism, natural wonder, and a juxtaposition of physical descriptions and symbolism. This juxtaposition is seen in the poem "Autumn Song," which conveys a particular sense of melancholy about the season of autumn. Autumn symbolically represents a slow death, which creates "languid grief" during a season that is both beautiful and difficult. In the second stanza, the speaker also juxtaposes feelings of "joy" and "pain" that evolve from an acceptance of an impending death.

You might examine some of Rossetti's other works of art and poetry that reflect the use of detail, natural symbolism, and mysticism to demonstrate complex truths about time, pain, and love.

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