Christina Rossetti, whom many of her contemporaries considered one of Victorian England's greatest poets (and a candidate for Poet Laureate after Tennyson's death), had a rich and complex relation to the visual arts:

1. She modeled for her brother Dante Gabriel, who drew and painted her in both portraits and important subject pictures, such as the Girlhood of Mary Virgin and his famous Annunciation.

2. As an member of the Pre-Raphaelite inner circle with an important, if ambiguous, relationship to the Brotherhood, she wrote poems about the brethren and their works; and both her religious works and "Goblin Market" to many people represented Pre-Raphaelitism in poetry. (3) Her own work, particularly "Goblin Market," inspired important illustrations. In other words, she drew upon the visual arts, and she both inspired and asssisted in their production.

The question remains, though, to what extent her work parallels the visual art of the Pre-Raphaelites. Is it visual, and does it employ Tennysonian kinds of word-painting, or do its strengths lie in euphony and word-music? Does her poetry have more in common with the hard-edge style of the early movement or with the sensuous medievalism of the later, or so-called aesthetic, form of Pre-Raphaelitism?

Last modified 10 October 2001;
images modified 20 December 2020;
Thanks to Betty Francis for reporting broken links.