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La Ghirlandata

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1873

City of London Corporation

City of London Corporation

La Ghirlandatawas translated by the artist’s brother, writer and critic William Michael Rossetti in 1884 as ‘The Lady of the Wreath’. The work was painted at Klemscott Manor in 1873, a house he shared with fellow artist and designer, William Morris. The main figure was modelled by Alexa Wilding, an aspiring actress, while May Morris posed for the angel heads. However, at this point in his life, Rossetti was obsessively in love with Jane Morris, William's wife and May's mother. Her features can be seen in the main figure, blending with those of Alexa Wilding, to create an uncanny tripling of Morris women... Rossetti invites multi-sensory appeal in this work by including allusions to sound through the harp and songbird, and to scent via the flowers. Musical instruments in Rossetti’s later work are often seen as a metaphor for sexuality. The sensuous image evades narrative, instead using symbols, rich colours and textural detail to create an overall effect of beauty. Rossetti himself thought highly of this painting, and described it as “the greenest picture in the world."

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