Christina Rossetti: Vision & Verse

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Posted 22nd January 2019

Christina Rossetti: Vision & Verse

A review by Jacqueline Banerjee, Associate Editor, Victorian Web

Christina Rossetti: Vision and Verse is another of those small but brilliantly conceived and curated exhibitions that make the Watts Gallery such a pleasure to visit. As seen on the right, its title is blazoned in attractive gold script on a deep blue background at the entry to the display areas. This speaks at once of its subject's presence, and her spirituality, and these continue to be felt strongly throughout. Along with them comes a growing sense of her importance, which visitors may not, until now, have fully appreciated.

At first, her achievement might seem to have been overshadowed by that of her artist brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his circle. She suggests as much herself in an unpublished poem which is also made eye-catching by its gold-on-blue presentation on another wall:

The two Rossetti's (brothers they)
And Holman Hunt and John Millais,
With Stephens, chivalrous and bland,
And Woolner in a a distant land,
In these six men I awestruck see
Embodied, the great P.R.B.

In fact, in this piece of light-hearted occasional verse, Christina underplays her role in the Pre-Raphaelite project. Far from being just an awed observer, as a member of the Rossetti family she was closely involved in it. This, along with her own very distinguished contribution to the cultural scene of the time, soon becomes abundantly clear.

Read the rest of the review on The Victorian Web

This article originally appeared on The Victorian Web on 9 January 2018. Images: Arthur Hughes, The Mower, RA 1865 (554), oil on canvas; John Brett, Portrait of Christina Rossetti, 1857. Oil on panel, 13.3 x 10.1 cm. Private collection; Thomas Matthews Rooke after a design by Edward Burne-Jones, Memorial to Christina Rossetti, 1897-98; Robert Edward Hughes, Oh what's that in the hollow?, 1893.

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