2/15 The Rosettis Dante Gabriel Rosetti



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2/15 The Rosettis
Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Pre-Raphaelites

  • Capture intensity of feeling in art before High Renaissance

  • Medievalism + Love = Un-Victorian (cf. Tennyson) (1611)

“The Burden of Nineveh”



  • Downfall of empires  Downfall of British Empire

  • “Dead Greece” – Arnold’s “Culture” (3)

  • Museum system as trophy collection of Empire (Egyptology, etc.)

  • 1st stanza – sarcasm of feeling triumphant over modernity after museum visit.

  • 2nd stanza – emblematizes dead empire

  • 3rd stanza dead religion, imagining the rites that accompanied the winged beast’s creation – English religion and civilization headed in same direction

  • 5th stanza – Beast still cast’s individual shadowin London, though original context long gone.

  • 6th-7th stanzas – Past kings have worshipped or witnessed this statue – it has outlasted them

  • 8th stanza – idol now sits in dim London daylight as a fact to be studied, fact of downfall of Rome, Babylon, Nineveh; capitals of fallen empires.

  • 11th stanza – mix of antiques, all relative to one another (cf. Egyptian mummies). Careless mess.

  • 12th stanza – the sun outlasted the glory of Nineveh

  • 17th stanza – museum workers getting ready to plaster statue for copies.

  • 18th stanza – plaster moulding an appropriation of the statue for British triumph to be exported – Colonialism, Empire (foolishness)

  • 19th stanza – when London is turned to desert and the statue is discovered in the future, people will think we worshipped it and not Christ. I.e. we too are worshipping this thing in a form of modern idolatry.

  • 20th stanza – questions whether this was in fact Ninevah’s god. It could have been appropriated by them from some culture they deemed “antique.”

How is this critique of empire different from Shelley’s “Ozymandias”?

What makes this Victorian?
Christina Rosetti


  • Chose to be single (though had some suitors), probably out of artistic self-preservation.

  • Presented sex as a capitalist commodity; cf. Victorian duality and fantasy (1644)

“Promises Like Pie-Crust”



  • Old adage: “Promises are like pie crust: made to be broken”

  • Individualism, freedom

  • Walking away from traditional courtship?

  • Let’s be friends, or unwed lovers? Do we need to define it?

Apple-Gathering and Pie-Crust



  • Seem to be about peaking too early

  • Asserting self and nature of relationship against public expectations.

  • Almost a progression here – apples (1857)  pie crusts (1861)

    • Images of a failed domesticity?


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