Lady Lilith (1866–1868) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Lady Lilith - Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1866 - 1873

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Artwork Information

TitleLady Lilith
ArtistDante Gabriel Rossetti
Date1866 - 1873
Mediumgouache,Watercolor on Paper andOil on Canvas
Dimensions81.3 x 95.3 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationDelaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE, US

About Lady Lilith

The artwork “Lady Lilith,” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, is a striking example of the Romanticism movement created between 1866 and 1873. It is a religious painting crafted using various mediums, including gouache, watercolor on paper, and oil on canvas, which now resides at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE, US. The dimensions of the artwork are notable at 81.3 x 95.3 cm.

In the intricate composition of “Lady Lilith,” we observe an arresting figure of a woman with voluminous, cascading red hair which frames her face and spills over her shoulders. The woman is captured in a moment of personal reflection, sitting before a mirror that she holds in her hand, seemingly enraptured in the act of combing her luxuriant locks. Her gaze does not meet the viewer’s but is directed toward her reflection, indicative of a self-absorbed character.

The setting around her blooms with the vitality and abundance of flowers, perhaps symbolizing beauty and sensuality. Indeed, these floral elements coupled with the lush greenery glimpsed through a window in the background resonate with the romantic and nature-inspired themes typical of the movement Rossetti was a part of. The careful attention to detail, the rich colors, and the sensual representation of the figure all point to the artist’s fascination with mythic and symbolic subjects. The lady’s attire, a white garment that reveals her shoulders, along with her exposed chest, suggests an element of classical influence and further emphasizes the ideals of Romantic beauty and form.

The figure, named Lilith in the artwork, is often associated with mythological and biblical narratives, where she is depicted as the first wife of Adam, known for her beauty and defiance. Rossetti’s “Lady Lilith” embodies this alluring yet dangerous quality, effectively capturing the essence of its subject matter through its evocative and lush depiction.

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