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Excerpt from Hand-List of Framed Reproductions of Pictures and Portraits Belonging to the Dante Collection
The chronology of Rossetti's career as a painter is surrounded by considerable uncertainty. Lists of his works, with dates often tentative, are appended to the accounts of him written by Joseph Knight, William Sharp, and W. M. Rossetti. Of 379 drawings and paintings tabulated by his brother, 43 were inspired by Dante, and of these a larger number pertain to the Vita Nam/a than to the Diw'na Conunedia. Ruskin pronounced these Dante pictures to be of quite imperishable power and value (nineteenth Century, Dec., 1878, p. Though they have a greater value to the student of Rossetti's genius than to the student of Dante, yet a beginning interest in the latter has often been fostered by such aids as these. Of course, to those who know their Dante well, attempts at pictorial illustration will, from the very nature of imaginative work, often prove unsatisfactory.
A word in regard to Rossetti's position on the vexed matter of the allegorical interpretation of Dante may not be out of place. His brother, W. M. Rossetti, having occasion in the Art journal for 1884, p. 205, to speak of his father's conten tion for the allegorical and enigmatical purport of Dante's writings, goes on to say that any conception or interpretation of that sort was totally alien from the train of thought and, feeling of Dante Rossetti, who would not in such matters at all take his cue from Gabriele Rossetti. He [d. G. R.] has been frequently termed a mystic; but he was almost the last man to be a mystic in the sense of disregarding or setting at naught the plain and obvious meaning of his author, and transmuting it out of human passion, emotion, and incident into mere abstract Speculation or doctrinal framework. Into his idea of Beatrice he would condense as much spiritual as womanly motive force; but it would have been contrary to his very nature to con template her as any other than a woman once really living in Florence, and there really loved by Dante as woman is loved by man. The like with the Lady of Pity, Fiammetta, and any other such personages. I do not here debate whether in this he was right or wrong; I only say that such was his invariable attitude of mind from earliest youth till his closing day, and that anything in his treatment of Allighieri, or of the drama} persona of Allighieri and other leaders of the Italian medieval mind, should always be understood as abstract to this extent only, and not to any extent involving some other and conﬂicting range of thought. In fact, he hated any glosses of a rationalizing tendency, and was as much indisposed to shuﬂie concrete things into allegory as he was prone to invest with symbolic detail or suggestion things which are in themselves simply physical and substantial.
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bound: 38 pages
publisher: Forgotten Books (April 26, 2017)
isbn: 1333356838, 978-1333356835,
weight: 2.4 ounces (