Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jane and Dante

For close on thirty years after the death of Gabricl. William Michael
Rossetti conscientiously edited his brother's literary remains. producing over
a dozen volumes, many of them stout, without ever referring to the association. Lady Burne-Jones and ]. W. Mackail, Morris' biographer. were equally
silent. F. G. Stephens, Rossetti's friend and the regular reviewer of his paintings,
was so circumspect that in his Dante Gabriel Rouetti, (p. 74), he
affected to discern a reference to Miss Alexa Wilding in the sonnet, 'The
Portrait', in which Rossetti expressed his exultant infatuation for ]aney.

Nothing was revealed in the posthumously published Recollections of Dante
GabrieJ Ronetti and his Circle, Treffry Dunn, Rossetti's studio
assistant. T. Watts-Dunton never achieved his long contemplated definitive
biography. H. C. Marillier, whose Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An illustrated
memorialof his life and art, 1899, remains the most comprehensive and useful
picture book on the subject, was wholly discreet. May Morris was understandably
reticent in discussing the intimate lives of her parents and said little
about her mother's relations with Rossetti. But she chose as frontispiece for
Vol. V of The Collected Works of William Morris, Rossetti's first painting
of ]aney. completed in 1868, with its Latin inscription equivalent in meaning
to the concluding line of 'The Portrait'-'They that would look on her must
come to me'. Rossetti's 'Water-Willow' is the frontispiece for Vol. IV.

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