Christina Rossetti Poetry in Art Susan Owens, Nicholas Tromans

Publication date:
16 Oct 2018
Yale University Press
192 pages: 254 x 190mm
200 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The first art book to explore Rossetti's art and poetry together, including her own artworks, illustrations to her writing, and art inspired by her

Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) is among the greatest of English Victorian poets. The intensity of her vision, her colloquial style, and the lyrical quality of her verse still speak powerfully to us today, while her striking imagery has always inspired artists. Rossetti lived in an exceptionally visual environment: her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was the leading member of the avant-garde Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and she became a favorite model for the group. She sat for the face of Christ in William Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World, while both John Everett Millais and Frederick Sandys illustrated her poetry. Later on, the pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and the great Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff were inspired by Rossetti’s enigmatic verses. This engaging book explores the full artistic context of Rossetti’s life and poetry: her own complicated attitude to pictures; the many portraits of her by artists, including her brother, John Brett, and Lewis Carroll; her own intriguing and virtually unknown drawings; and the wealth of visual images inspired by her words.

Nicholas Tromans is program director at Christie’s Education, London, and former curator at Watts Gallery, Surrey. Susan Owens, an art historian and writer, is former curator of paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

“Handsome publication”— Ian Lipke, Queensland Reviewers Collective

“This lovely-looking book explores Christina Rossetti’s artistic context in new and unexpected ways.” —Aileen Reid, World of Interiors

“The catalogue for the recent exhibition at the Watts Gallery, Christina Rossetti: Poetry in art, brings together many surprising items from public and private collections to reveal unusual aspects of the poet's life and work. […] The scholarly work of the editors and contributors and the book's many illustrations greatly expand our knowledge of Christina Rossetti and her widening circle.” —Lindsay Duguid, Times Literary Supplement

“The volume is abundantly illustrated and provides a satisfying contribution to the study of an immensely complex poet and an aspect of 19th century art with which she is unavoidably intertwined” —Tom Fleming, Apollo Magazine

“Her influence on other artists is shown both in the exhibition and in the beautiful accompanying book – far more than a catalogue – Christina Rossetti: Poetry in Art. We see her impact in their illustrations for different editions of her books of poetry, and the many paintings inspired by her poems, such as Arthur Hughes’s The Mower, while in art photography, Julia Margaret Cameron based her charming The Minstrel Group on one of her poems.” —David V Barrett, Catholic Herald

“Throughout, handsome design and well-placed illustrations make this a pleasing, fresh addition to the literature on Victorian art, poetry and aesthetics.” —Frances Spalding, Literary Review

“Handsome book” —Jeremy Musson, Country Life

“The volume now published by Yale University Press, in relation with an exhibition on display at the Watts Gallery in Compton does manage to shed some new light on a largely overlapping subject.” —Laurent Bury, Cercles

“[A]n accessible, wide-ranging and beautifully presented introduction to the visual contexts of Rossetti’s work…[which] honours the established view that her poetry participates in a lively interplay with the visual arts, offering an alluring record of a beautiful exhibition.”—Fiona Macdonald, The Journal of Religious History

Long listed for the Historians of British Art Book Prize