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Jewellery in Rossetti’s paintings

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Jewellery in Rossetti’s paintings

Each jewellery in Rossetti’s paintings worn by his models wasn’t invented but copied from actual accessories from the artist’s collection. Pieces were carefully selected to complement the garment, color and other aesthetic features of the painting. Rossetti kept a cabinet in his house at Cheyne Walk full of necklaces, brooches, and knick-knack of all kinds. Most of them were cheap pieces of costume-jewelry, but some were his particular favorites. The spiral pearl pin featured in quite a few of his paintings, including The Beloved (1865-6), Monna Vanna (1866), A Christmas Carol (1867), Mariana (1870) and The Bower Meadow (1870).

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Beloved (The Bride), 1865-6, Tate, London, Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings pearl pin

The Beloved (‘The Bride’) 1865-6 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Tate, London

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_A_Christmas_Carol

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A Christmas Carol, 1867, Private Collection

Most of those items were sold after Rossetti’s death and cannot be traced. But the following four items were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London by Jane Morris’s daughter May. Rossetti might have given them to Jane, his muse, and model for numerous paintings, including Proserpine, as a token of love during the period of their intricate relationshipAll four of them are on display at the V&A Museum in London.

Belt and hanger

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Belt and hanger, Jane Morris

Jane Morris’s belt, 17th century silver with links of cast ornament, length 104 cm, width 2.52 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London


The belt is worn by the central figure in Astarte Syriaca (1875-77). Jane Morris was the model for the painting and it represents the goddess Venus. Only it’s not the European Venus, portrayed by Botticelli, but a mysterious and more ancient Oriental goddess, whose identified as ‘Syrian Venus’. On the painting, Rossetti slightly simplified the floral design and turned the colored from silver to silver-gilt – to match the tonality.

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Astarte-Syriaca, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Astarte Syriaca, 1875-77, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

Jane Morris’s wedding ring on a gold chain

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Jane Morris's gold chain and wedding ring

Jane Morris’s gold chain and wedding ring Ring, 22 carat gold, with London hallmark for 1858, length of chain 121.9cm Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Jane is portrayed wearing this chain in The Blue Silk Dress (1868) and Mariana (1870). Apart from the wedding ring, the chain could have originally belonged to Rossetti.

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Rossetti, Dante Gabriel; Blue Silk Dress (Jane Morris), 1868, Society of Antiquaries, London

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blue Silk Dress, 1868, Society of Antiquaries, London

Bracelet

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Jane Morris, Rossetti bracelet

Jane Morris’s bracelet South Indian or Burmese, perhaps mid-19th century, gold set with rubies, Victoria and Albert Museum, London


The central motif of the bracelet is a pair of water monsters on each side of a water pot with lion masks grasping the plated chain in their jaws. Rossetti first used this exotic piece in 1864 in Monna Pomona and it can clearly be seen worn by The Bride (1865-6).

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Monna Pomona 1864 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882, gold bracelet

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Monna Pomona, 1864, Tate, London

Heart-shaped brooch

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Jane Morris heart shaped brooch

Rossetti’s Heart-shaped brooch Probably European, mid-19th century, silver with applied rosettes, set with three large pieces of colored glass., Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The brooch consists of two red and one green piece of colored glass within a heart-shaped mount with small rosettes and leaves filling the gaps. Though it was made with a vertical pin to be worn as a brooch, in The Blue Bower (1865) Fanny Cornforth wears it as a pendant, hanging provocatively at her throat on a chain. It echoes her red lips and green silk of her robe.

Jewellery in Rossetti's paintings Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blue Bower, 1865, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blue Bower, 1865, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham


 

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