Virgin of the Holy Grail by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – sensuality and romance as a violation of the canons of Puritan English painting of the 19th century
The Virgin of the Holy Grail is a painting by the famous English artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The master used a plot from the famous cycle of Celtic legends about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
According to one of the legends, the Morgana Fairy took Sir Lancelot into prison. Sir Bors learned of this and hastened with the news to King Pelles. In the hall, he found the king’s daughter Elaina with a baby in her arms – it was the son of Lancelot. The stern warrior could not hold back tears of joy. And at that moment an incredible event happened – a white dove flew into the room, holding a golden censer in its beak.
Following the bird was a girl with the Holy Grail in her hands and prophesied that a newborn boy would reach the Holy Grail, become a knight and surpass his father. In the picture, executed mainly in a dark muted palette, there are only two light spots – a snow-white dove with wide spread wings and the heroine’s delicate skin, emitting a fragile porcelain glow. The messenger’s face was filled with detachment, pensive sadness and hopelessness. She brought the message to people and knows that in the future everything will happen exactly as predicted.
The title of the painting: The Damsel of the Sanct Grael.
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882).
Year of writing: 1874 Size: 92.1 x 57.8 cm.
Genre: Mythological. Portrait.
Technique: Oil painting.
Location: Private collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Andrew Lloyd Webber).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti lived and worked in the 19th century.
The famous poet, illustrator and painter rejected the conservative traditions of English painting of the Victorian era and headed a new modernist movement – the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
The painting “Virgin of the Holy Grail” was painted in the manner familiar to the late Rossetti, progressive and romantic. A passionate admirer of women with lush and bright hair, he invited one of his favorite models, Alexa Wilding, to pose.
The heroine of the ancient ballad, which according to all the canons should look strict and unapproachable, is depicted as an ordinary earthly woman, incredibly beautiful and desirable. She has a languid look, a long shock of red hair and bright red sensual lips. Instead of an antique vessel, she is holding in her right hand an elegant modern glass.
And the dove playfully looks at the viewer, as if showing off its beautiful lush plumage. The painting “Virgin of the Holy Grail” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is currently in the private collection of Lord Lloyd Webber, the famous English composer and philanthropist. Occasionally, the masterpiece is exhibited at various exhibitions. For example, at the Guildhall gallery in 1895 and at an exhibition dedicated to the work of the Pre-Raphaelites in 2003.