Decorative Initial According to David H. Riede, "Rossetti's lack of sincere religious faith is evident from the ease with which he dropped his Art-Catholic stance. There was no personal religious crisis, but only a change of aesthetic direction. . . . The rejection of Christian art as a model did create an artistic crisis. For the next fifteen years, without his old themes, Rossetti wrote very little poetry, and what he did write reflects a lack of confidence and a flailing about for a sense of direction. . . . Gradually, during the late 1850s and early 1860s, the theme of passionate love, and the image of the beautiful, sexually inviting — or intimidating — woman, came to replace the medievalizing tendency and thematically confusing formalism of the watercolors. . . . From 1859 on, virtually all his major work in both painting and poetry sought to express, in one way or another, the spiritual value of sexual love. Rossetti, at last, had found his true theme. (Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Limits of Victorian Vision [Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983), 53, 54, 72, 76.)


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