Beauty, nature and Dante inspirations

Written by: Francesca Marotta
Category: Art
15 August 2019
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The Pre-Raphaelites - Love and desire
Palazzo Reale, Milan - until 6 October 2019

From Ofelia of John Everett Millais to Shalott's Lady by John William Waterhouse: going through the halls of the exhibition that brings 80 Pre-Raphaelite works to Milan for the first time (they are part of the Tate Collection that are unlikely to come from the United Kingdom) means taking a dive total in beauty, in poetry and in the lifestyle of the movement founded in England in 1848 by 7 students who rejected social conventions (many were also poets, of lay faith, faithful to nature and the first to represent women as powerful and mysterious forces ) that joined together to free British painting from the academic models of the old masters.

Among the most iconic paintings, Roman de la Rose (1864), a small painting (34.3x34.3 cm) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) attracts attention. Inspired by the eponymous French poem of the thirteenth century, a poignant allegory of love and loss, the watercolor proposes a rich decoration, which draws on the medieval illuminated manuscripts that the artist saw, the scholars suppose, at the British Museum. This design is also the frontispiece of a book by the same artist, The Early Italian Poets, begun in 1845 when he was 17 and finished in 1861, containing translations of various lyrics. Among these, in particular, there is Vita Nova by Dante, a prosometer, or a composition in prose and verse, in which the vate ideally traces his love for Beatrice. In the supreme poet the young Pre-Raphaelite saw a founding figure of medieval and modern art.

A curiosity. Dante Gabriel Rossetti is also the author of Monna Vanna (1886), the oil on canvas which is the manifesto of the exhibition and the name is taken precisely from Vita Nova: it refers to the woman of Guido Cavalcanti, a poet friend of Dante.

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