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“Lady Lilith” Dante Gabriel Rossetti Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828 - 1882 English poet, painter, translator Preferred mythological subjects Born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti Obsessed with wombats Model: Jane Burden mistress of Rossetti, but married to William Morris

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“Lady Lilith”

Dante Gabriel

Rossetti

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

1828 - 1882

  • English poet, painter, translator
  • Preferred mythological subjects
  • Born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti
  • Obsessed with wombats
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Model: Jane Burden

  • mistress of Rossetti, but married to William Morris
  • had a poor childhood and no education, but was discovered byRossetti and asked to model
  • was very intelligent and became self-educated after herengagement
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Origins of Lilith Story

“Lilith” in the Old Testament refers to a screech owl or a demon.

The idea of Lilith as the first wife of Adam arose in the Middle Ages

Support in Biblical Text: Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" – before the description of Eve’s creation in Gen. 2:22

Story of Lilith became widely known in 17th century with the publication of the Lexicon Talmudicon

body s beauty
Body’s Beauty

Sonnet LXXVIII, from The House of Life

OF Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told      (The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)      That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive,And her enchanted hair was the first gold.And still she sits, young while the earth is old,      And, subtly of herself contemplative,      Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave,Till heart and body and life are in its hold.The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where      Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scentAnd soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?      Lo! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went      Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent,And round his heart one strangling golden hair.

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Harry Ransom Center Holding

Study for oil painting

Lilith, 1867Colored chalk on paper.28 x 24” (71.1 x 61cm).

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Another

Lilith

Lady Lilith, 1867Watercolor and gouache on paper;

20 3/16 X 17 5/16 in. (51.3 x 44 cm)Rogers Fund, 1908 (08.162.1)

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The Final Painting

Lady Lilith, 1868-1873

Oil on canvas

38 x 33 1/2 inches.

Delaware Art Museum,

Wilmington, Delaware

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Significance

  • Lilith represents the “body’s beauty”
  • Sensual woman painted brushing her hair, not wearing a corset
  • Surrounded by flowers
  • Conscious of her own beauty and power to control others
  • Paradox: Lilith is both a highly sexualized object and an empowered woman
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Works Cited

The Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Ed. By William M. Rossetti. Ellis and Scrutton: London, 1886.

“The Beauty as Power in Rossetti’s Lady Lilith.” http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/dgr/paintings/may4.html

“The Paradox of Lady Lilith.”

http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/dgr/paintings/4.html

Wikipedia contributors, "Jane Burden," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jane_Burden&oldid=40278234 (accessed February 28, 2006).