Christina Rossetti

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13 November 2018 - 17 March 2019
Watts Gallery

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Tuesday 13 November 2018 – Sunday 17 March 2019
Watts Gallery
Friends free


This autumn we will host the first exhibition in a quarter of a century dedicated to the extraordinary life, poetry and art of Christina Rossetti (renowned author of Goblin Market & In the Bleak Midwinter). Highlights of the show include works by her brother, the famed artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Rossetti's annotated prayer-book, alongside lively illustrations to her poetry by Arthur Hughes and Frederick Sandys and images by iconic pioneer of photography Julia Margaret Cameron.

Now regarded as one of the greatest Victorian poets, Christina Rossetti was born into an intellectually minded Anglo-Italian family in 1830. Her personal vision, existential urgency and musical clarity are all deeply valued today. Rossetti is read more than ever, and scholars from all over the world are seeking to interpret her work.

The youngest of four supremely talented children – all of whom succeeded as artists and writers – Rossetti grew up in an exceptionally visual environment. Her youth was spent in close contact with the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti was her regular collaborator. While ostensibly reclusive, Rossetti was very well connected in the British art world, and cared deeply about how her poetry was illustrated, as it was regularly from the 1850s onwards. At least from the 1860s, oil paintings inspired by the poems also began to appear at the London exhibitions, offering freer interpretations of Rossetti's words than was usually possible with printed illustrations.

This exhibition, and the accompanying book (Christina Rossetti: Poetry in Art, edited by Nicholas Tromans and Susan Owens), asserts that despite her frequent bouts of ill health, Rossetti was very well connected in the London art world and cared deeply about how her work was understood - looking at her early life with her family through objects such as her annotated prayer-book and her inspiration and collaboration with the Pre-Raphaelites. Sharing original illustrations of Goblin Market and The Prince's Progress by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and later editions of Goblin Market illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Bringing together Rossetti's books for children - displaying copies of Sing-Song (1872) and Speaking Likenesses (1874); illustrated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Showing work that Rossetti directly inspired, through her poetry and her personality - with works by Arthur Hughes, Julia Margaret Cameron and Edward Robert Hughes. Looking at the relationship of mother and daughter – sister and brother through family portraits and touching on the lasting legacy of Rossetti's work beyond the page.

This exhibition will continue our strand of exhibitions dedicated to sharing the work and story of female artists and is this first to look at Rossetti not just as a poet but as a muse and an artist in her own right.

Event Details

Christina Rossetti in Song

Saturday 15 December

7 – 8.30pm

Join us to feel festive and hear song settings by Christina Rossetti and her family and friends, including Love Came Down at Christmas and In the Bleak Midwinter.

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