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Chronology

Born 12 May. Baptised Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti. Born the second of four children of Gabriele Rossetti (exiled Italian patriot, Dante scholar and from 1830 Professor of Italian, King's College London) and Frances Polidori Rossetti (governess and teacher). His elder sister Maria Francesca was born the previous year.

1829 - William Michael Rossetti born.

1830 - Christina Georgina Rossetti born.

1837 - Queen Victoria ascends to the throne. Gabriel enters King's College School, London, joined shortly by William Michael.


1842 - Enrols at Sass's, a private drawing school which prepared students for the Royal Academy Schools.


1845 - Admitted to Royal Academy Schools.


1848 - A year of European revolutions. Both Rossetti brothers write political sonnets; participates in Cyclographic Society (an art students' club which circulates drawings for criticism by members); writes to Leigh Hunt about prospects for a career as a poet; writes to Ford Madox Brown requesting tuition, initiating a life-long friendship; at Brown's suggestion enrols in Dickinson's life class, Maddox Street; admires William Holman Hunt's 'The Eve of St Agnes' at the Royal Academy exhibition and initiates a friendship; shares Hunt's studio in Cleveland Street; translates Dante's 'Vita Nuova' and lists 13 subjects for pictorial treatment; formation of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), probably by the end of December, with seven members: James Collinson, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederic George Stephens, Thomas Woolner.

1849 - Begins to sign himself Dante Gabriel Rossetti; first exhibition of the PRB, Rossetti exhibits 'The Girlhood of Mary Virgin' at the Free Exhibition; Hunt, Millais and Collinson exhibit at the Royal Academy; William Michael Rossetti begins the 'PRB Journal' on 15 May as the first exhibited pictures begin to make their impact; travels with Hunt to Paris and Belgium in the autumn.

1850 - 'The Germ', Pre-Raphaelite literature magazine published in January (four issues). Rossetti's contributions include 'The Blessed Damozel' and the short story 'Hand and Soul'; second exhibition season of the PRB; Rossetti exhibits 'Ecce Ancilla Domini!' at the National Institution (successor to the Free Exhibition); after the existence of the PRB is revealed in the press, many critics respond with hostility; in the autumn paints out-of-doors at Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, where Hunt and Stephens are also working. Rossetti fails to finish his picture but later uses the background for the 'Bower Meadow'; by the end of 1850, William Rossetti records in the 'PRB Journal' that PRB group meetings have fallen into abeyance.

1851 - Moves to Ford Madox Brown's studio in Newman Street; begins to draw and paint from Elizabeth Siddal; according to William Rossetti, Dante and Siddal are informally engaged by the end of the year or soon afterwards; John Ruskin writes to 'The Times' and publishes a pamphlet 'Pre-Raphaelitism' in defence of the PRB.

1852 - In July Woolner emigrates to Australia to seek his fortune in the gold-fields; in November Rossetti moves to 14 Chatham Place, Blackfriars Bridge, where he will live until 1862.

1853 - On 12 April the remaining members of the PRB make portraits of each other to send to Woolner; in the summer Rossetti visits William Bell Scott in Newcastle and visit Carlisle, Rossetti tours Warwickshire on his return journey; Siddal uses Rossetti's studio while he is away and works on a self portrait; from about this date she stops sitting as a model to other artists and develops her own practice as an artist; by autumn Rossetti has made designs for 'Found'; in November Millais is elected Associate of the Royal Academy, Rossetti writes to his sister 'So now the whole Round Table is dissolved.'

1854 - Holman Hunt leaves in January for Egypt and Palestine; Rossetti's father dies in April; Ruskin writes to Rossetti, visits his studio and begins to take special interest in his art; Siddal's ill health causes serious concern; she convalesces in Hastings where Rossetti visits her; begins to take interest in book design and illustration; executes 'The Maids of Elfen-Mere' for a volume for his poet friend William Allingham.

1855 - Begins teaching at Working Men's College at Ruskin's urging; introduces Siddal to Ruskin, who gives her an allowance to pursue her artistic career and seeks medical advice for her; she is sent to the south of France for the winter; Rossetti visits Paris to meet Siddal and to see the Exposition Universelle of 1855.

1856 - Meets Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, undergraduates at the University of Oxford and encourages them to begin artistic careers; receives his first major commission for an altarpiece in Llandaff Cathedral.

1857 - Pre-Raphaelite exhibition held privately in Russell Place, Fitzroy Square; Rossetti and Siddal exhibit watercolours and drawings; organises mural decorations for the new Debating Hall of the Oxford Union Society, assembling a group of artists including Burne-Jones and Morris; they meet Jane Burden and Algernon Charles Swinburne.

1858 - Formation of Hogarth Club, a private exhibiting society.

1859 - Paints 'Bocca Bociata', exhibited at the Hogarth Club in 1860; William Morris and Jane Burden marry.

1860 - Rossetti and the seriously ill Siddal marry on 23 May and honeymoon in Paris; after a brief stay in Hampstead they settle in Chatham Place; Burne Jones and Georgina Macdonald marry; Morrises move to Red House, Buxleyheath, Kent, designed for them by Philip Webb; they collaborate with friends on furniture and interior decorations.

1861 - Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co begin trading in April, with seven partners including Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Webb, Brown and Morris (reorganised in 1875 as Morris & Co under Morris's sole ownership); in the early years Rossetti is an active participant, especially as a designer of stained glass; Dante and Elizabeth's daughter is stillborn on 2 May; Rossetti's translations 'The Early Italian Poets from Ciullo d'Alcamo to Dante Alighieri' published in December.

1862 - Elizabeth Siddal Rossetti dies of an overdose on 11 February; Rossetti places the manuscript of his poems in her coffin; Rossetti moves to Tudor House, 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, in the autumn, at first sharing with Swinburne, the poet George Meredith and William Rossetti; begins to amass a diverse collection of fine and applied art, including Japanese and Chinese ceramics; employs Walter John Knewstub as pupil-assistant; meets James McNeill Whistler.

1863 - Travels to Belgium with William Rossetti.

1864 - Finishes last section of Llandaff Altarpiece and retouches the whole composition; travels to Paris in the autumn, escorted by Henri Fantin-Latour; visits studios of Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet and cafs frequented by artists.

1865 - Commissions a series of photographs of Jane Morris, posed in the garden at Tudor House, just before the Morrises leave Red House to settle in Queen Square, London; begins to make drawings of Jane Morris.

1867 - Employs Henry Treffry Dunn as studio assistant.

1868 - Executes a portrait of Jane Morris; begins a series of formal drawings of her which form the basis for later subject pictures; has trouble with his eyes and fears blindness; resumes writing poetry.

1869 - Henry James visits Rossetti's studio and the Morrises' house and is impressed by Rossetti's paintings and drawings of Jane Morris; Jane Morris's health declines; in the autumn the Morrises visit the spa at Bad Ems in Germany; Rossetti returns to Penkill Castle; disinterment of Siddal's coffin to recover the manuscript volume of Rossetti's poems.

1870 - 'Poems' published in April; the volume attracts favourable reviews and sells briskly, reaching a sixth printing.

1871 - Rossetti and William Morris take joint tenancy of Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire; in the summer Morris travels to Iceland, leaving Rossetti, Jane Morris and the Morris children at Kelmscott; 'The Fleshly School of Poetry', attacking Rossetti (and other poets and artists in his circle) for immorality and aestheticism, published by Robert Buchanan (writing under the pseudonym 'Thomas Maitland') in the 'Contemporary Review' in October; Rossetti replies in 'The Stealthy School of Criticism' in the 'Athenaeum' in December.

1872 - Rossetti suffers a mental and physical breakdown in June; convalesces in Scotland, then at Kelmscott; designs 'Proserpine' and starts it on four canvases by early 1873.

1873 - Plans to translate Michelangelo sonnets; translations of early Italian poetry reissued as 'Dante and his Circle'.

1874 - William Morris takes sole tenancy of Kelmscott Manor; Rossetti returns to Tudor House; William Rossetti and Lucy Madox Brown marry.

1875 - Stays at Aldwick Lodge, Bognor Regis, over the winter, with visits from Jane Morris; works on 'Astarte Syriaca'.

1877 - Declines invitation to exhibit at the Grosvenor Gallery, a new exhibiting venue where members of his circle, particularly Burne-Jones, achieve great success; undergoes an operation in June; convalesces at Herne Bay, on the Kent coast, in the autumn, joined by his mother and sister.

1881 - Publishes a new edition of 'Poems' and a volume of 'Ballads and Sonnets'; Liverpool Corporation buys 'Dante's Dream' for the Walker Art Gallery; Jane Morris sits for Rossetti for the last time in September, for the hands in a projected picture of 'Desdemona's Death-Song'.

1882 - Seriously ill, taken to Birchington-on-Sea, on the north Kent coast, where he composes his last poems and finishes the eighth and last version of 'Proserpine'; William Rossetti writes in his diary: 'My dear Gabriel, the pride and glory of our family, died on 9 April, Easter Sunday, about 9.31pm.'

Winter 1882 - 83 - Memorial exhibitions of Rossetti's work at the Royal Academy and the Burlington Fine Arts Club.