Friday, May 18, 2007

The Sacred (Faithful) - Rossetti, PRB

The Girlhood of Mary Virgin - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
[PRB 1849, Tate Gallery, London]

Rossetti's first major oil painting and the first to be exhibited with the mysterious letters 'PRB'. The models for Our Lady and her mother were Rossetti's sister, Christina, and their mother. It is replete with symbols -- Mary Virgin and St. Anne are embroidering a lily, symbol of purity, on a crimson cloth; a pile of books inscribed with the cardinal virtues; a seven-thorned briar and seven-leaved palm branch are tied with a scroll etched with tot dolores tot gaudia ('so many sorrows, so many joys'). And a child angel lightly touches the temporal plane, St. Joseph prunes a vine, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove looks piercingly with its jet black eye.

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