Monna Vanna is a masterpiece created by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1866. The painting features a portrait of a red-haired woman holding a feather fan and wearing an exquisite embroidered gown of white and gold. Rossetti’s attention to detail can be seen in the carefully crafted dress, hair, fan, jewelry, and accessories. The painting is considered one of his greatest works done after the manner of Venetian Old Masters.
Rossetti was highly interested in color harmonies, as shown in Monna Vanna’s Venetian yellows tempered with red and green shades. Although the woman depicted was initially thought to be imaginary from Dante’s or Boccaccio’s poems called “Monna,” Rossetti collaborated with professional model Alexa Wilding on this and many other paintings.
The artwork emphasizes the beauty of individual objects combined to create an overall effect. Monna Vanna has been exhibited at renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and Tate Modern.
Notably, after his wife Elizabeth Siddal’s death, Rossetti struggled with depression leading to addiction to drugs and alcohol which caused him significant health challenges including mental breakdowns that affected his future work negatively.