Proserpine (1877) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Proserpine - Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1874

Artwork Information

ArtistDante Gabriel Rossetti
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions61 x 125.1 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationTate Britain, London, UK

About Proserpine

The artwork “Proserpine” was painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1874, exemplifying the Symbolism movement. This oil on canvas measures 61 by 125.1 centimeters and represents a mythological painting. Currently, the artwork is housed at Tate Britain in London, United Kingdom.

The artwork portrays Proserpine, the Roman goddess of springtime and the queen of the underworld, as a strikingly beautiful woman with an introspective and solemn expression. Her features are rendered with meticulous detail, particularly her wavy, voluminous dark hair and her full lips, which stand out against her pale skin. Rossetti captures her holding a pomegranate, a symbol of her marriage to Pluto, the god of the underworld, and her captivity. The pomegranate’s broken skin and the seeds within are depicted with great realism, suggesting succulence and capturing the light that falls on its surface.

Proserpine’s attire consists of a flowing robe with lustrous, blue-green fabric that wraps around her body, creating a sensual and elegant form. The use of color and light in the garment gives it a sense of depth and texture, as the fabric appears to ripple and shimmer. The dark, muted background further establishes the sense of enclosure and isolation, which is enhanced by a solitary ivy branch that emerges from the shadows to touch her gently, symbolizing immortality and eternal attachment.

In the upper left corner of the painting is an inscription in Italian, presumably a sonnet, adding to the literate and poetic context of the piece, merging visual art with textual symbolism and narrative. The blend of classical myth with Rossetti’s Pre-Raphaelite style marks this work as an intriguing study of emotion, symbolic richness, and artistic craftsmanship.

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