Saintly ecstasies: the appropriation and secularisation of saintly imagery in the paintings and poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Meacock, Joanna (2001) Saintly ecstasies: the appropriation and secularisation of saintly imagery in the paintings and poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Using unpublished source material at Princeton University, the University of British Columbia, the British Library and the National Art Library in the V&A, this thesis aims to broaden current scholarly understanding regarding Rossetti's exposure to, interest in, and subsequent appropriation of aspects of monastic life and saintly legend in his religious and secular paintings and poems.

The intention of part one of this thesis is to discuss and analyse Rossetti's early interest in monasticism and the legends of the saints. Rossetti's attraction to Catholic ritual and ceremony, both in terms of its aesthetic impact and the feelings of awe it engendered, will form the background to a discussion of his admiration for pre-Reformation art. The concern which he displayed in his own paintings and poems for saintly legend and theological mysteries will be shown to have its origins in early Christian art, as well as in the apocryphal lives of the saints and the writings of the Church Fathers, which had seen a resurgence in popularity in the wake of the Oxford Movement.

Rossetti's growing fascination with art as a vehicle for the conveyance of religious ideas will be considered in relation to the early and mid-nineteenth century revival of interest in the medieval painter-monk and in the practice of illumination. Rossetti's 1856 watercolour Fra Pace will be examined in this context. The pertinence of the example of St Luke, who used his art as a preaching tool, will also be considered, Rossetti having returned to this concept directly, and obliquely, throughout his career in both his visual and poetic art. The influence of the quasi-monastic Nazarene painters, also called the German Brotherhood of St Luke, will be examined.

Rossetti's suggestion of "Brotherhood" as an appendage to "Pre-Raphaelite" will be considered within a specifically monastic context, looking at the artist's family history, analogous artistic communities, and the revival of interest in ascetic institutions within the nineteenth century. The extent to which the works of the Pre-Raphaelite group showed a basis towards asceticism will be analysed, as will contemporary reactions to this.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Illustrations removed from end of thesis due to copyright issues.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: MacDonald, Dr. Margaret and Stirton, Mr. Paul
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Mr Toby Hanning
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-1596
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:43

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