Art exhibition review: The Rossettis at Tate Britain

The Rossettis retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain explores the lives and works of Dante Gabriel, Christina, and Elizabeth Rossetti. The exhibition features 150 paintings, drawings, photography, design, and poetry and is the first retrospective of Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Tate. It also showcases the largest collection of his iconic pictures in two decades. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see some of the Rossettis’ works in one place, and it is a must-visit for anyone interested in the Pre-Raphaelite movement and 19th-century art.

The Rossettis exhibition at Tate Britain London Mums editor Monica Costa collage

London Mums magazine editor Monica Costa poses next to La Ghirlandata (left) and The Beloved (‘The Bride’ right)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The exhibition’s focus on the Rossetti siblings’ radical approach to life, love, and art is evident in the works on display. Dante Gabriel Rossetti is well known for his intricate and detailed paintings, which often feature mythical or mediaeval themes. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see some of his most famous works, including The Beloved (‘The Bride’), La Ghirlandata (1873), Monna Pomona (1864), Venus Verticordia (1868) and Lady Lilith (1866-1873). These works demonstrate Rossetti’s unique style, which was a reaction against the academic art of his time. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists who sought to create art that was closer to nature and reflected their own personal experiences.

The Rossettis exhibition Tate Britain London collage

La Ghirlandata has been interpreted as an embodiment of love and beauty. In this stunning painting that has been chosen as the image for all the marketing posters, brochures and other merchandising for this exhibition, Rossetti depicts a woman playing a harp as two angels surround her, enclosed by vivid flowers and luscious green foliage which melds into the green of her dress. I would have preferred The Beloved as the main image for all merch because it is an even more beautiful collection of gorgeous women surrounding a black boy. The painting represents the bride of the Bible’s Song of Songs unveiling for her lover and is a study of art’s erotic structure and function.


Elizabeth Siddal

The exhibition also features the first full retrospective of Elizabeth Siddal for 30 years, showcasing her rare surviving watercolours and important drawings. Siddal was a talented artist and poet, and she played a crucial role in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. She was also the model for many of Rossetti’s paintings, including Beata Beatrix and The Beloved. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see some of her rarely seen works and understand her contributions to the Pre-Raphaelite movement.


Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti, the youngest sibling, was a prolific poet whose works were often inspired by her family’s experiences and her own personal beliefs. The exhibition features some of her most famous poems – which are read by a soave female voice at designated marked spots on the floor, including Goblin Market and Remember, alongside some of the illustrations and designs that accompanied them. Her works demonstrate her unique perspective on life and her unwavering commitment to her beliefs.

The exhibition also features a range of photographs and design pieces, including wallpaper and stained glass windows. These works demonstrate the Rossettis’ wider influence on the arts and their commitment to creating a total work of art that encompassed all aspects of design and culture.


Family edutainment

The Rossettis retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain is not only a wonderful opportunity for adults to explore the artistic legacy of the famous family, but it is also a great educational experience for children. The vibrant colours (shown also in Rossetti’s Muses’ green gowns that are so trendy in 2023 fashion), intricate details, and emotional themes in the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his sister Christina Rossetti, and their brother William Michael Rossetti are sure to captivate young visitors and spark their imagination. Additionally, the exhibition provides an excellent opportunity for parents and teachers to introduce children to the world of art and the Victorian era, the Rossettis’ lives, their radical approach to art, and their lasting influence on the arts and culture which can deepen their understanding of history, culture, and society. 

Whether you are a fan of the Pre-Raphaelite movement or just interested in the history of art, The Rossettis exhibition is a must-see for families who want to share a memorable and enriching cultural experience. 


The exhibition opens on 6 April and runs until 24 September 2023, and is located at 

Tate Britain
London SW1P 4RG.


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