Proserpine (1877) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Proserpine - Rossetti, Dante Gabriel - 1877 - 2

Artwork Information

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

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a prominent member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, created several paintings of Proserpine, but his most famous one is the version completed in 1874. The painting is now housed in the Tate Britain in London and portrays Proserpine in a moment of reflection rather than her abduction.

Rossetti painted at least eight versions of Proserpine between 1871 and 1882. Jane Morris, an iconic figure of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and Rossetti’s muse for many paintings was a regular model during this period. In the painting, there are several symbols that allude to Proserpine’s plight as well as those facing Jane Morris.

Proserpine is shown with an opulent crown adorned with pomegranates, which symbolize fertility and death simultaneously. She holds a blood-red pomegranate fruit in one hand while her other hand rests on her knee. This symbolizes both her captivity and acceptance of Hades’ gift. Her gaze is introspective as she contemplates whether to stay or return to earth for six months each year.

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