Keep Rossetti in the picture

April 14, 2011

Two articles by Matthew Reisz draw welcome attention to excellent Victorian art exhibitions, but neither does Dante Gabriel Rossetti justice.

To say that none of Rossetti's paintings comes close to capturing the ethereal beauty of John Parsons' photographs ("Captivated by captured emotions", 31 March) serves to downplay Rossetti since, as an early and enthusiastic adopter of photography as an art form, Rossetti composed and directed most if not all the photos of Jane Morris. This stage setting and Rossetti's vision of the ideal, through his relationship with Morris, were most likely what allowed the posing to bring out the sitter's unconventional beauty. So while Parsons is a fine technical photographer, the ethereal nature of these photographs owes a great deal to Rossetti.

In describing Rossetti's art in the context of the Aesthetic Movement ("Wilde, alluring and utterly utter", 7 April), the chance to note Rossetti's pioneering spirit in experimenting with new painting techniques leading to jewel-like colours in his medieval works is missed in favour of a rather trite comment about subjects being "kitted out in medieval fancy dress".

Rossetti may not be everyone's cup of tea, but as a gifted mind of exceptional breadth and talent, he deserves credit when it is due. There is an exhibition at Birmingham Art Gallery (Poetry of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing) where I hope it will be third time lucky for Rossetti.

Clive Rowland, Cheshire

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