Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before,–
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so,
Some veil did fall,–I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more

“Sudden Light” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition at Tate Britain

12 September 2012 – 13 January 2013

Note:  I will be honest.  This Pre-Raphaelite series of blogs is one of my least popular and successful, but I am continuing because I enjoy this topic.  The Exhibition ends tomorrow.

From Italian stock, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the physical lynch pin of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood (where Ruskin was the Aquarian ideas man) had several planets in Taurus, the sign of the painter.  More than a double Taurus (Sun and Ascendant in that sign) he also had the Moon (his emotional tone), Part of Fortune (his joy of life), Chiron (his inner healer) and Mercury (his mentality) in that sign.

All the above planets appear in the 12th House of the Unconscious, and so he was very much fed by his inner imagination and vision.

Taurus rules the neck, and Dante Gabriel was definitely a neck man.  His beauties display long, swan-like necks!  His déjà vu (of the poem Sudden Light) turns on the neck.

Melanie Reinhart writes of his Chiron placement:

“He was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in nineteenth-century art, which sought to reconnect with the simplicity (Chiron in Taurus), purity and idealism (11th House) of earlier art (12th House), and to convey spiritual realities through skilled representational painting (Chiron in Taurus, conjunct 12th House stellium).  He usually chose mythological or pastoral subjects, both of which are symbolized by his Chiron configuration.”

With his Venus sextile Mercury/Chiron/Part of Fortune, he was also an adept poet and the Pre-Raphaelite movement in general combined art and writing well, e.g. William Morris’ illuminated manuscripts.  Dante Gabriel and William Morris both have Venus trine Jupiter, denoting success in the Arts.

With his Nodal Axis square to his Midheaven/I.C. Axis, his was a fateful existence, and especially in his karmic connections with others.  In his romantic life especially, there seems to have been a sense of compulsion, and in the case of his foremost and primary love Lizzie, a tragic outcome reflecting his Venus square Pluto (the connection between love and death).

I am hoping to write a separate blog about Lizzie, but will outline a brief astrological history of their relationship:

With Sun/Saturn/Mars and Venus in Leo, golden-haired Elizabeth Siddal had a very creative chart, and some of her sketches are exhibited in the current Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain.  She also loved poetry, and wrote poetry herself.

Lizzie met Dante Gabriel in 1849, sat for numerous works, and developed her own artistic talent under patronage from John Ruskin, but was ill for much of the time of her relationship with Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  She famously lay in ice cold water for Millais’ painting of Ophelia (in 1852), and suffered a health crisis from that.  She was described by Dante’s brother William Rossetti as having a “lofty neck”, so perhaps her Ascendant was Taurus (we do not have her birth time).  In Dante Gabriel’s mind and vision (his 12th House planets) they played out mythological roles, most notably Dante and Beatrice.  He resisted marriage for some time (Her Sun opposite Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Uranus brought out his need for freedom) but they eventually married in 1860.

One of the most poignant episodes of his life was after her death which occurred in 1862,  when he had buried some of his poetry with her, and then later attempted to have the poems exhumed with the help of a friend.  However, they had sustained damage from a worm.  This was a fraught process which took place when Mars was squaring his Nodal Axis, a transit which can coincide with risky ventures.

Beata Beatrix

There were other women and artists’ models in his life, such as Fanny Cornforth, whose affections he toyed with.  Also prominent in his romantic history was Jane Burden (another swan-necked beauty), who, like Lizzie, sat for many of his paintings, such as Guinevere.  William Morris became engaged to Jane in 1858, but later the three were involved in a “Menage a trois” situation.

Astarte Syriaca

By 1969, writes Franny Moyle: “Rossetti’s preoccupation with the love poetry he had written at the height of his infatuation with Lizzie had been resurrected by Jane.  His obsession with his latest conquest was returning his thoughts to his long-lost verse.  What is more, Jane was encouraging him to publish his work.”  The poetry assumed more importance for him during this period.  His poetry, like his painting, displays the richness and sensuality of Taurus.  Although he alludes to reincarnation in the poem above, I have not been able to find information about his beliefs on the subject.

Towards the end of his life, Rossetti departed slightly from the original aims of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, veering away from truth and realism, and more towards beauty and decoration.

He died in 1882:

“Guardian obituary

The death of Mr DG Rossetti

We regret to announce the death of Mr Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which occurred on Sunday [9th April 1882], at 9.27 p.m., at Birchington-on-Sea, to which place he had gone some weeks ago for the benefit of his health.”

At his death, 6 planets had gathered in his sign Taurus, and Scorpio was rising.

I hope that I have done justice to the subject.  It is interesting to note that Rossetti had Ascendant and Sun in Taurus, and Ruskin Ascendant and Sun in Aquarius, strong signs in square to each other.  They may have been grist to each other’s mill.


“Desperate Romantics” by Franny Moyle

“Chiron and the Healing Journey” by Melanie Reinhart

“The Pre-Raphaelites” by Tim Hilton

Other blogs in this series:

The Pre-Raphaelites: A Soul Group


The Pre-Raphaelites: John Ruskin